A team of paleontologists managed to make an interesting discovery. They stumbled upon the fossils of a titanosaur dinosaur located in Tanzania. What is exciting about this creature is the fact that is displays more similarities with dinosaurs of the same family discovered in South America, rather than with those from Africa.
The titanosaur looks atypical for an African dinosaur
Paleontologists came by this titanosaur fossils preserved in the southwest of Tanzania, in some rocks dating back to the Cretaceous Period. This creature actually belonged to the sauropod family, which contained mainly dinosaurs with long necks. Also, the placement of its fossils indicated the dinosaur lived between 70 and 100 million years ago.
Researchers dubbed the new titanosaur Shingopana songwensis. This is an unusual find for Africa, since similar dinosaurs have been found so far in South America. Recently, paleontologists discovered many fossils of related dinosaurs on that continent. The only difference between them and the newly found titanosaur was their size.
The similarity between the species is explained by the split of the old continent Pangaea
While the South American cousins tended to be much larger, our African titanosaur was only the size of a killer whale. This means it only was 26 feet long. Even so, its characteristics are more similar to those of its more distant relatives, than to the African dinosaurs.
The answer to this peculiar coincidence is given by the fact that the two continents used to be much close to each other. During the Cretaceous Period, the large mass of land called Pangaea was undergoing intense tectonic activity. Back then, the protocontinent started dividing into the two continents we know today.
South America split from what we know today as southern Africa, and many related creatures were separated. Shingopana songwensis remained on the African half, while its siblings were caught on the piece of land which moved north and turned into South America.
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons