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Pre-Amir Dinosaur Is A Newcomer From America

25.10.2004


Remains of a dinosaur new to Russia have been found in the town of Blagoveshchensk and described by a Russian paleontologist. Previously, remains of the nearest relations of this pangolin – Kerberosaur - were found only in North America.



An unusual scull of a large dinosaur that lived in the Late Cretaceous (approximately 70 million years ago) was found in the territory of Blagoveshchensk by paleontologist Yuri Bolotsky, specialist of the Amir Comprehensive Scientific Research Institute (Russian Academy of Sciences).

Investigations of the find were carried out by Yu.L. Bolotsky jointly with his Belgian colleague Pascal Godefroit from the Royal Museum of Naturals Sciences in Brussels and proved that the owner of the skull belonged to the genus and species new to science.
The species was called Kerberosaurus manakini; this discovery allowed the scientists to determine the paths of evolution and settling of a number of the Late Cretaceous reptiles.



Dinosaurs are one of the groups of reptiles widespread on our planet in the Jurassic and Cretaceous of the Age of Reptiles. They included giant pangolins and relatively small creatures of the size of a dog or a hen. Dinoraurs settled in various in-land habitats, dinoraurs varied from predators to herbivorous forms; they became extinct in the late Cretaceous (approximately 65 million years ago). The Kerberosaur described by Yu.L. Bolotsky and P. Godefroit belonged to the last representatives of this group of reptiles.

The Kerberosaur was a large herbivorous pangolin (according to Yuri Bolotsy’s estimates, the length of its body made about 10 meters) belonging to the so-called hadrosaurs. Likewise other representatives of this group, the Kerberosaur had a flat and wide beak, somewhat reminding of a duck’s one, however, it was about 1 meter long and supplied with numerous teeth which helped to grind the food. However, the head of the Kerberosaur had no high and hollow osseous crest typical of other hadrosaurs.

It is interesting to note that remains of the nearest (and even slightly more ancient) relations of the Kerberosaur were found only in North America; apparently, it is from there that its ancestors had migrated to the eastern Asia through the Beringia bridge. Such migration path is quite unusual: Asia is considered to be the fore-home for the majority groups of dinosaurs and other vertebrates found on the American continent.

The find of Kerberosaur proves that the ties between faunas of Asia and North America in the late Cretaceous were more complicated and diverse than it had been considered so far: exchange of species between Asia and North America was reciprocal. The Kerberosaur is by no means the first dinosaur discovered in the Pre-Amir Region. Already back in 1902, Russian colonel Manakin (a new pangolin species was called after him) found several fossil bones on the Chinese bank of the Amir River (near the village of Tsain). In 1915 and 1916, special digs were carried out in that area, in the 1920s, A.N. Ryabinin described three dinosaur species based on the materials of these digs.

In 1957, A.K. Rozhdestvensky also discovered bones of ancient reptiles on the Russian bank of the Amir River, Yu.L. Bolotsky has been conducting regular investigations of them since 1984. Yu.L. Bolotsly found unique “dinosaurs’ cemeteries” in Blagoveshchensk and in the vicinity of Kundur settlement (south-east of the Amir Region), the digs of the “cemeteries” provided truly sensational results. It was in Kundur that in 1999-2001 an entire skeleton of a giant (10 meters long) hadrosaurs was found, the hadrosaurs was called Olorotitan.

As of today, the Kundur location of remains of dinosaurs and other Late Cretaceous vertebrates is the richest in Russia. The digs continue there and each field season brings new discoveries. This summer, bones of the hind extremities and pelvic girdle of a large hadrosaurs were excavated there. The finds have just been delivered to Blagoveshchensk and are waiting for being investigated; however, it is already clear that they belong to another dinosaur genus which is new to science.

Research of fossil reptiles is an extremely laborious, painstaking and expensive task. It is sufficient to mention that the bones which remained in the soil for several millions of years lose their former strength and fall to pieces very easily when excavated from the stratum. Each bone found during the dig should be immediately covered by a layer of plaster cast to protect it from destruction.

Plaster blocks (their weight reaching sometimes several centners) are delivered to the laboratory, where the ancient bones are taken out of plaster, thoroughly prepared and impregnated with special compositions. Only after such treatment is completed, pangolin remains become available to scientific research.

Therefore, discoveries of new dinosaurs in the Pre-Amir Region have become possible only thanks to energy and enthusiasm of Yu.L. Bolotsky, his colleagues and assistants – and certainly due to their tremendous work.

Sergey Komarov | alfa
Further information:
http://www.informnauka.ru

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