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Thursday, March 26, 1998 Published at 09:17 GMT


New dinosaur discovered
image: [ Scipionyx samniticus ]
Scipionyx samniticus

Italian scientists have uncovered the first dinosaur ever to have been found in Italy and it may be the best preserved dinosaur yet discovered.Our Science correspondent, David Whitehouse reports:

Presenting their finding in the science journal 'Nature' they say they can see details of the dinosaurs muscles and intestines.

Mike Benson, Professor of Vetebrae Palaeontology at Bristol University on this new find (2'36')
The dinosaur is a juvenile theropod, 24 centimetres long, and distantly related to the fearsome predator Tyrannosaurus rex. It's been called Scipionyx samniticus. A model of it has been made.

[ image: Full size model]
Full size model
It died about 113 million years ago and fell into a lagoon. The low oxygen content of the water slowed its decay and it was covered in a fine silt that has allowed the exceptional preservation of its soft tissues.

Dinosaurs first appeared about 200 million years ago. They ruled the Earth until about 65 million years ago when they disappeared possibly due to the effects of a large meteorite strike.

Some scientists believe that today's birds are descended from the dinosaurs.

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