A group of Argentine scientists announced last Sunday (28) the discovery of a titanosaur that lived 140 million years ago, originating in the Cretaceous period and that may be the oldest animal in the world ever found.
The discovery concerns the species Ninjatitan zapatai, a subgroup of sauropods, giant herbivorous dinosaurs with long necks and tails and possibly the largest animals that have ever walked the Earth, at 20 meters in length.
“The greatest importance of this fossil, in addition to being a new species of titanosaurus, is that it is the oldest record in the world for this group”, explained Pablo Gallina, a researcher at the Azara Foundation of Maimónides University and the National Research Council Scientific and Technical (Conicet). To date, only dinosaurs of a maximum of 120 million were known.
In the study published in the scientific journal Ameghiniana, Gallina stated that the discovery is also very important for the knowledge of the evolutionary history of sauropods, since the fossil records of the early Cretaceous are scarce worldwide.
The fossils were found in the formation of the Baijada Colorada, in the province of Neuquén, southwestern Argentina, in 2014. On the day, technician Jonatan Aroca found three vertebrae and some bones of his hind legs, a part of the femur and what would be the fibula of the titanosaur.
The name Ninjatitan zapatai was chosen as a tribute to Argentine researcher Sebastián Apesteguía, known as “El Ninja”, and technician Rogelio Zapata.