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Jan 08, 2014 08:52 AM EST

First Dinosaur Fossils Discovered In Saudi Arabia

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An international team of scientists from Uppsala University, Museum Victoria, Monash University, and the Saudi Geological Survey have discovered and identified the first-ever dinosaur fossils from  Saudi Arabia, indicating their wide-spread presence in the planet.

Researchers said that the finding is significant because dinosaur fossils are absolutely rare in the Arabian Peninsula.

Tom Rich, a paleontologist at Museum Victoria in Australia said that finding dinosaur fossils in the region is difficult because when dinosaurs were alive, the Arabian landmass was largely underwater.

"Dinosaur remains from the Arabian Peninsula and the area east of the Mediterranean Sea are exceedingly rare because sedimentary rocks deposited in streams and rivers during the age of dinosaurs are rare, particularly in Saudi Arabia itself," Rich said in a statement.

The fossils, about 72 million years old, were excavated in the northwest part of the country along the coast of the Red Sea.

The dinosaur fossils comprises of a string of vertebrae from the tail of a Brontosaurus-like sauropod and teeth from a carnivorous theropod. The theropod is believed to be a fast-moving, 6-meter-long bipedal meat-eater distantly related to Tyrannosaurus, while the sauropod was a giant (long neck and tail) plant-eating titanosaur that may have grown up to 20 meters in length.

"Dinosaur fossils are exceptionally rare in the Arabian Peninsula, with only a handful of highly fragmented bones documented this far. Indeed, these are the first taxonomically recognizable dinosaurs reported from the Arabian Peninsula," Benjamin Kear, study's lead author, said.

The finding has been published in the journal PLOS One.

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