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Cretaceous Sauropods from the Sahara and the Uneven Rate of Skeletal Evolution Among Dinosaurs

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Science  12 Nov 1999:
Vol. 286, Issue 5443, pp. 1342-1347
DOI: 10.1126/science.286.5443.1342

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Abstract

Lower Cretaceous fossils from central Niger document the succession of sauropod dinosaurs on Africa as it drifted into geographic isolation. A new broad-toothed genus of Neocomian age (∼135 million years ago) shows few of the specializations of other Cretaceous sauropods. A new small-bodied sauropod of Aptian-Albian age (∼110 million years ago), in contrast, reveals the highly modified cranial form of rebbachisaurid diplodocoids. Rates of skeletal change in sauropods and other major groups of dinosaurs are estimated quantitatively and shown to be highly variable.

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