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Last Updated: Friday, 3 December, 2004, 03:09 GMT
New dinosaur uncovered in Brazil
By Steve Kingstone
BBC Brazil correspondent

Researchers with model of Unaysaurus tolentinoi (AFP)
The creature was about 2.5m long
Scientists in Brazil say they have uncovered a new species of dinosaur.

The creature, identified from fossils, is thought to have lived more than 200 million years ago, making it one of the earliest dinosaurs known to science.

The research team, from the University of Rio de Janeiro, says there are strong similarities with its creature and remains discovered in Europe.

This lends weight to the view that the world's landmasses were once joined as a single continent in Triassic times.

The fossilised remains were originally discovered in Agua Negra, near the city of Santa Maria, in the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul. They were found by an elderly man out for walk.

His name was Tolentino Marafiga, so the new species has been named Unaysaurus tolentinoi in his honour.

Based on the model of the dinosaur presented at the National Museum of Rio de Janeiro, it would have weighed about 70kg, been 2.5m long and up to 70-80 cm high.

Model of Unaysaurus tolentinoi (AFP)
One of the earliest dinosaurs known to science
It was most like a herbivore, say the researchers. Dating work suggests it lived during the Triassic Period, 225 million years ago.

What has intrigued the research team is the geography.

"Preliminary analysis shows that it is closely related to the European Plateosaurus, principally found around Germany," said Atila da Rosa, one of the researchers.

This support the hypothesis that the continental landmasses we know today came out of a supercontinent scientists have dubbed Pangea.

And it suggests that dinosaurs of similar species were dispersed over vast areas.

See what the dinosaur may have looked like

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