Scientists have discovered a new species of meat-eating dinosaur in Madagascar - a first new species identified on the island country after almost a decade.
According to American scientists, the dinosaurs roamed the Earth some 90 million years ago when India and Madagascar were one landmass cut off from the rest of the world. The fossils of the prehistoric mammal were discovered in 2007 and in 2010. Researchers found that the fossils had unique structure which suggested that they were a new species.
Scientists revealed that the dinosaur was a meat-eating ancient mammal that roamed the Earth. It weighed about the size of a large cow and belonged to a group of carnivorous dinosaurs called abelisauroids. Scientists have given the dinosaur a Malagasy name called Dahalokely tokana - meaning "lonely small bandit." The name refers to its diet as well as its isolation in the isolated landmass in the ocean, reported BBC.
Dahalokely tokana would have grown from 2.75 to 4.3 metres long and walked on two legs. "This dinosaur was closely related to other famous dinosaurs from the southern continents, like the horned Carnotaurus from Argentina and Majungasaurus, also from Madagascar," co-author of the study Joe Sertich, a curator for the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, was quoted as saying by RedOrbit.
Until now, scientists were not able to find Madagascar dinosaur fossils that date back between 165 and 70 million years. The newly-discovered dinosaur fossils, which date back 90 million years, shortens the gap by about 20 million years.
"The most intriguing thing for me is that it fills a major gap in what we know about the history of dinosaurs in Madagascar," Andrew Farke, of the Raymond M Alf Museum of Paleontology in Claremont, California, told the BBC.
"It shortens it by about 20 million years. It would have been a meat-eater, walking on two legs about the size of a large cow, with a tail," he added.
The details of the discovery are published in the journal PLOS ONE.