Fri, Aug 15, 2003 - Page 5 News List

Scientists discover new dinosaur species in India

AP , BOMBAY

Paul Sereno, paleontology professor at the University of Chicago, poses with a model of the assembled skull of Rajasaurus narmadensis in Bombay.

PHOTO: AP

US and Indian scientists said on Wednesday they have discovered a new carnivorous dinosaur species in India after finding bones in the western part of the country.

The new dinosaur species was named Rajasaurus narmadensis, or "Regal reptile from the Narmada," after the Narmada River region where the bones were found.

The dinosaurs were between 8 to 10m long, had a horn above their skulls, were relatively heavy and walked on two legs, scientists said. They preyed on long-necked herbivorous dinosaurs on the Indian subcontinent during the Cretaceous Period at the end of the dinosaur age, 65 million years ago.

"It's fabulous to be able to see this dinosaur which lived as the age of dinosaurs came to a close," said Paul Sereno, a paleontologist at the University of Chicago. "It was a significant predator that was related to species in Africa, Madagascar and South America."

Working with Indian scientists, Sereno and paleontologist Jeff Wilson of the University of Michigan reconstructed the dinosaur skull in a project funded partly by the National Geographic Society.

A model of the assembled skull was presented on Wednesday by the American scientists to their counterparts from Punjab University in northern India and the Geological Survey of India during a Bombay news conference.

Scientists said they hope the discovery will help explain the extinction of the dinosaurs and the shifting of the continents -- how India separated from Africa, Madagascar, Australia and Antarctica and collided with Asia.

The scientists said they believe the Rajasaurus roamed the land masses of present-day Madagascar, Africa and South America.

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