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Brazilians unearth new monster dino species

Maxakalisaurus topai, come on down

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Brazilian paleontologists who have spend the last four years piecing togther fragments of a monster dinosaur have declared it a new species of the Titanosauria group - a 13 metre, nine-tonne beast snappily dubbed Maxakalisaurus topai, Reuters reports.

The herbivorous giant - dating back 80m years and characterised by "large body, long tail and neck with a relatively small head" - was unearthed between 1998 and 2002 beside a road in Serra da Boa Vista in Minas Gerais state.

It gets its name from a local indian tribe, the Maxakali, and their divinity Topa. Reuters notes that it's customary in Brazil to dub paleontological novelties with indigenous names.

The Titanosauria group were the principal herbivorous dinosaurs roaming the super-continent of Gondwana and its post-split components of Africa, Antarctica, Australia, India and South America. The importance of Maxakalisaurus topai lies in the fact that it's closely related to the highly-evolved Saltasaurinae group which put in an appearence 70m years ago and have to date been discovered only in Argentina.

The new Brazilian species appears to have suffered the post-mortem indignity of being eaten by carnivores, as attested by teeth marks on some of the bones, researchers explained. Its reconstructed skeleton was unveiled yesterday in the National Museum in Rio de Janeiro. ®

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