Science and Tech


Undiscovered species of dinosaur surprises researchers

Scientists have likely found an undiscovered species of dinosaur that was much smaller than they would have expected.
A titanosaurs standing in swampy waters.
Posted at 2:16 PM, Jun 16, 2023

New research published in the Royal Science Open Society indicated scientists may have found a previously undiscovered species of dinosaur in South Africa dating back nearly 200 million years. 

Researchers studied a fossil uncovered in 1978 that was previously thought to be the arm of a much larger dinosaur. But researchers now believe the fossil belongs to a relative of titanosaurs. 

Titanosaurs are considered relatively large members of the sauropodomorph clade. This particular fossil, however, indicates that it is possible that these types of dinosaurs could live to be much smaller as adults.

Researchers at the Natural History Museum estimate the fossil weighs 70 kilograms (155 pounds). The researchers say there is insufficient information to give the new species its name. 

Those studying the fossil were surprised to find out that this particular dinosaur fossil was smaller than the average human. 

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"Until now, we didn’t know that early sauropodomorphs could get this small in the Jurassic, so the smallest skeletons were assumed to be babies," study lead author Kimberley Chapelle said in a press release. ‘We can now reassess these skeletons discovered in southern Africa and hopefully find a more complete individual from which we can name a new species.’

There are still many unknown details about the sauropodomorph from the Jurassic period, but researchers have a number of hypotheses. Scientists believe that the dinosaur stood on two feet based on the shape of its arm bone. 

But researchers are hoping to learn more about what they uncovered.

"It’s possible that sauropodomorphs lost the ability to stay this small as part of the evolution of large size, but we just don’t know," Chapelle said.