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Dino-boffins unearth another new gigantic species

Pre-Christmas marketing from board of palaeontology?

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Yet another giant dinosaur has been dug out of the ancient rock of this fair planet. Clearly unwilling to be outdone by American or Japanese duck-billed dinosaur discoveries, Argentine and Brazilian palaeontologists have announced the discovery of Futalognkosaurus dukei, a massive plant-eating beast.

According to the BBC, the animal would have measured 32 metres from head to tail, making it the one of the largest dinosaurs ever found. It is also the most complete skeleton of a giant dinosaur: the scientists have uncovered bones from the neck, back region, hips and the first vertebra of its tail.

But its great size was little help to it. The discovering team says the bones show signs of predation, which is to say it was someone smaller's lunch.

The fossils were first discovered in 2000 on the shores of the Lake Barreales in the Argentine province of Neuquen. As well as the skeleton, the site has a treasure trove of other related fossils such as plant life, and contemporary fishes, giving the scientists a clear picture of the local ecosystem.

Alexander Kellner, a researcher with the National Museum in Rio de Janeiro, told Reuters: "The accumulation of fish and leaf fossils, as well as other dinosaurs around the find, is just something fantastic. Leaves and dinosaurs together is a great rarity. It's like a whole lost world for us."

According to the BBC, the new species was named for the energy company that helped fund its excavation, Duke Energy Argentina. The rest of the name, Futalognkosaurus, is derived from the Mapuche Indian words for "giant chief of the lizards", Auntie Beeb says. ®

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