Recently we have this new species of titanosaur from Egypt which helps fill in some HUGE gaps.
Egypt is of course famous for much mythology and lore surrounding the raising of obelisks and pyramid keystones or capstones. Now we can add to that list, the "holy grail" or "keystone" of titanosaur evolution - Mansourasaurus shahinae
. Mansourasaurus shahinae
is not all that large by titanosaur standards (the published skeletals shows it at about 8.5m, but I suspect that the neck was a good bit longer than they illustrated, as well as having more than the mere 13 vertebrae drawn here, so more like a total length of 10.5 or 11m at least), but enough of it was recovered to give us valuable info about one of the most obscure and murky parts of sauropod evolution - the not-too-taxonomically-stable family of titanosaurs called Argyrosauridae. So far this family includes Argyrosaurus
, and probably Lirainosaurus
and the "Cooper" titanosaur from Australia. None of these animals are known from complete skeletons, and most are not even known from a well-rounded sampling of both limb and backbone elements. However, now we can see an argyrosaur with both.www.nature.com/articles/s41559…media.springernature.com/lw582…
You can see here that the shoulder resembles Dreadnoughtus
, which in some ways is the most "argyrosaur-like" of the longkosaurs. It also has a rough proportional resemblance to that of Muyelensaurus
, which may be either an argyrosaur or a trigonosaur. The biggest cervical vertebra they found has the same compacted proportions and oddly shaped "Phrygian" neural spine as the one known from Quetecsaurus
, and the humerus is extremely wide and flat, with the lower condyles spaced far apart - the classic "surfboard" shape found in both Argyrosaurus
, and to a lesser extent in Quetecsaurus
. There is also a partial lower jaw including the chin. The curve of the jaw shows this animal had the standard rounded mouth of a high-browser, hinting that its neck was probably longer than in the paper's skeletal. It also shows that argyrosaurs did not have the square mouth of antarctosaurs, which is a critical difference in feeding niches as the two families are closely related.
This article, unfortunately, is behind a paywall. Nature Ecology & Evolution is a journal owned by Springer, which is charging an insane $99 for access to just this one paper. I'm not encouraging anyone to pirate, but I won't shed any tears over Springer's loss if someone does. Springer's current fee-gouging model certainly is
If the authors want to help the free flow of scientific data and also give this dinosaur the benefit of comparative research with other titanosaur experts (and I'm fairly sure they do), they should consider submitting future papers to open-access journals - it's too late for this paper as Springer already holds the copyright now. Instead, it's best to submit to PeerJ, Facets, PloS One, APP, Paleo-Electronica, any of them. They all respect author's copyright and do not charge the authors for digital copies. Springer, along with other corporate conglomerate journal owners like Elsevier, Wiley, Taylor & Francis, Bentham, etc., has never been a good choice, as it is restricting the free flow of taxpayer-funded research
despite having no involvement with the grants process or the organization of the dig, gouging both professor and student alike, and not paying the authors a penny for the (unethical) privilege. And they're mostly bean-counters, not
scientists. Until they start paying royalties to the authors of papers, this is a rotten deal all the way round. Dump Springer, move to Facets.