Wednesday, May 5, 2010

I Vant To Talk Dinosaurs...

O.K. I sincerely apologize for the title. It was a bad joke, I know, but it had a purpose!

I've got another post for you about dinosaurs today and I think this one is very cool.

In the area of the world we know today as Transylvania, Romania (yes, the same place famous for Vlad the Impaler and Dracula, hence the bad title joke) there once lived a dwarf dinosaur around 70-75 million years ago.

For years, scientists have debated the remains of the dinosaur, Magyarosaurus dacus, as to whether they were really a dwarf species or if they were simply babies that had yet to grow into adulthood. What made the debates even more important was that Magyarosaurus dacus belongs to a species of dinosaurs known as titanosaurs which were giant plant-eating dinosaurs or sauropods.

One of the largest titanosaurs, Argentinosaurus, was as large as 10 African Elephants. Their weight could reach as much as 220,000 pounds. Magyarosaurus dacus tipped the scales at a mere 230 pounds and was about the size of a horse. That's quite a difference in size there!

Scientists have been studying the bone structure of the Magyarosaurus dacus remains and they have determined that the bones did come from fully grown animals and they have solid evidence to back that up.

Small bones were discovered in 1895 on a Transylvanian estate by the sister of paleontologist Franz Baron Nopcsa. Then, Nopcsa determined the bones came from a dwarf dinosaur. About the same time as the Nopsca bones were discovered, another paleontologist had turned up dwarf mammals, such as tiny elephants and hippopotamuses, on a Mediterranean island. The name Magyarosaurus dacus was given to the bones by Franz Baron Nopcsa in honor of his home country. Other titanasaur bones were found at later dates but those bones belonged to the larger variety. These discoveries led to the belief that Magyarosaurus dacus was a young dinosaur.

Isn't it fascinating that, without modern technology, a paleontologist in 1895 was able to determine what took our modern scientists years to figure out? Franz Baron Nopcsa was truly very good at what he did.

You can see an artists sketch of the dwarf dinosaur here at and read more about the dino itself here in MSNBC's Tech and Science Section.

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