The 20-meter lizard, discovered in Argentina in 2014, roamed present-day Patagonia 140 million years ago.
A colossal dinosaur unearthed in Argentina may be the oldest titanosaur ever found, having roamed what is now Patagonia about 140 million years ago in the early Cretaceous, scientists said Sunday.
The 20-meter lizard, Ninjatitan zapatai, was discovered in 2014 in the province of Neuquen in southwestern Argentina, La Matanza University reported in its analysis.
“The main importance of this fossil, besides being a new species of titanosaur, is that it is the oldest recorded for this group in the world,” said researcher Pablo Gallina of the Conicet Scientific Council in a communicated.
Titanosaurs were part of the sauropod group – gigantic herbivorous lizards with long necks and tails that were perhaps the largest animals to ever walk on Earth.
The new discovery, the statement said, meant titanosaurs were living longer than previously thought – at the start of the Cretaceous period that ended with the dinosaurs disappearing around 66 million years ago.
Fossils from 140 million years ago are “very, very rare,” said Gallina, lead author of a study published in the Argentine scientific journal Ameghiniana.
The creature is named after Argentinian paleontologist Sebastian Apesteguia, nicknamed “El Ninja”, and technician Rogelio Zapata.