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New dinosaur with heart-shaped tail offers clues to evolution of Africa's ecosystems

A dinosaur that wore its "heart" on its tail is providing new clues to how ecosystems evolved on the African continent during the Cretaceous Period some 100 million years ago, according to researchers at Ohio University. The dinosaur, the third found in southwestern Tanzania by the scientists, is a large, long-necked titanosaur, a type of sauropod. Its partial skeleton was recovered from Cretaceous Period rocks exposed in a cliff surface in the western branch of the East African Rift System. The dinosaur is named Mnyamawamtuka moyowamkia (Mm-nya-ma-wah-mm-too-ka mm-oh-yo-wa-mm-key-ah). Its name is derived from the Swahili term for "animal of the Mtuka (with) a heart-shaped tail," in reference to the riverbed (Mtuka) in which it was discovered and the unique shape of its tail bones. The researchers report that the new dinosaur supplies important information about African fauna during a time of evolutionary change.

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