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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 January, 2004, 16:16 GMT
Dinosaur fossils found in Amazon
What Amazonsaurus looked like (Artwork by Pepi, Federal University in Rio de Janeiro)
What Amazonsaurus looked like (Artwork by Pepi)
Scientists in Brazil have found dinosaur fossils in the Amazon - proof, they say, that the creatures once lived in the region.

The Federal University in Rio de Janeiro said its researchers found the remains of a new species of dinosaur, estimated to be 100 million years old.

The dinosaur is part of a group of long-necked, long-tailed plant-eaters called sauropods.

It has been named Amazonsaurus maranhensis, after Maranhao state.

A dinosaur tooth was previously found in the Amazon, in northern Brazil, but it was not regarded as proof that dinosaurs once lived there.

Southern Brazil and northern Argentina have long provided some of the best dinosaur finds.

But many scientists believe palaeontology research in the Amazon rainforest is pointless, theorising that the high humidity of the region would have caused relatively rapid decay of fossils.

Small but old

The Amazonsaurus belongs to the herbivorous sauropod Diplodocus family. The only sauropods found in Brazil before were Titanosaurs.

The Amazonsaurus is believed to have been one of the smallest sauropods - about 10 metres (30 foot) long and weighing about 10 tonnes.

Professor Ismar de Souza Carvalho, one of the scientists who found the fossils, told BBC News Online that the Amazonsaurus was the oldest sauropod found in Brazil.

He said the remains of other reptiles, including turtles and crocodiles, were found with the dinosaur fossils as well as molluscs and fish. They have allowed scientists to piece together a picture of the climatic conditions in which the dinosaurs lived.

The other scientists involved were Leonardo dos Santos Anvilla, another Brazilian from the Federal University in Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), and Argentine Leonardo Salgado, of the Comahue National University.

The UFRJ said similarities between the Amazon find and fossil fauna found in north-western Africa backed the theory that South America and Africa were once part of the same continent.

Artwork by Pepi, Federal University in Rio de Janeiro
(Artwork by Pepi, Federal University in Rio de Janeiro)

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