A pair of paleontological finds are reported in the literature this week. The first is a newfound genus and species of one of the massive sauropodomorphs that was discovered in Antarctica—only the second Jurassic dinosaur ever found there. The second discovery comes from Africa and represents one of the largest carnivorous dinosaurs ever found.
The latest issue of Acta Palaeontologica Polonica contains an article (open access) that describes the discovery of a massivesauropodomorph. The fossils, which consisted of partial foot, leg, and ankle bones, were foundon Mt. Kirkpatrick near the Beardmore Glacier in Antarctica at an elevation of more than 13,000 feet. Sauropodomorph dinosaurs were gigantic herbivores, and were the predecessors of the more well known Sauropods. They are also closely related to—in evolutionary terms—theropods, which include Tyrannosaurus, Velociraptor, and modern birds.
Currently in paleontology there is open debate about the evolutionary relationship and development of sauropodomorph. This find establishes that the sauropodomorph dinosaurs were more widely spread, existing in the Americas, China, South Africa, and now Antarctica. Secondly, in conjunction with a prior Antarctic find of an early sauropod, it suggests thatGlacialisaurus hammeri—the new species—coexisted with true sauropods during the late Triassic and early Jurassic.
The second bit of dino-related news comes from a find not near a pole, but from just above the equator in the African nation of Niger. The fossils of interest here are not new—not that any fossil really is—they were discovered during an expedition in 1997 by University of Chicago paleontologist Paul Sereno. These fossils were identified as belonging to a new species, Carcharodontosaurus iguidensis, by a University of Bristol graduate student. This species would have been one of the largest carnivorous dinosaurs to have ever walked the earth—measuring in at 13-14 meters long, it would have been taller then a double decker bus.
Fossils of this species have an interesting history. The first known fossils of Carcharodontosaurus were found in the 1920s and consisted of two teeth—each the size of bananas. However, in the intervening decades, these relics have been lost. Other remains were found in Egypt in the 1930s, but were destroyed in the bombing of Munich in 1944. A skull of the dinosaur was found about a decade ago in the Moroccan Sahara. This leaves little evidence for scientists to go with, but it does illustrate that a number of species of theropods were living simultaneously in Africa around 95 million years ago. The current set of fossils consists ofseveral pieces of the skull—parts of the snout, lower jaw, and braincase—as well as part of the neck. The findings are reported in this week's edition of theJournal of Vertebrate Paleontology.
 Acta Palaeontologica Polonica, 2007. 52 (4): 657-674
 Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 2007.