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Scientists have discovered what they believe is the first dinosaur known to have lived in icy Greenland 214 million years ago, during the Late Triassic Period.
The two-legged plant-eating dinosaur — dubbed Issi saaneq by researchers from Denmark, Germany and Portugal — was of medium size, had a long neck and needle-like teeth. It was an ancestor of the largest land animals ever known — the sauropods. Its name, meaning “cold bone,” is derived from the Greenland Inuit language.
Two skulls were originally uncovered in 1994 by Harvard University paleontologists at the Malmros Klint Formation in the Jameson Land Basin, a peninsula in eastern Greenland. It was first thought that one skull belonged to a long-necked Plateosaurus, a dinosaur species that lived in France, Germany and Switzerland during the Triassic Period.
“These specimens certainly pertain to a new species: Issi saaneq,” said Victor Beccari of NOVA University-Lisbon. Beccari is the lead author of a paper on the findings, which was published in the journal Diversity.
“It is exciting to discover a close relative of the well-known Plateosaurus, hundreds of which have already been found here in Germany,” said co-author Oliver Wings of Martin Luther University, Germany.
Researchers used an X-ray scan of the fossils to create three-dimensional models of the structures and bones within the sedimentary rock.
“The anatomy of the two skulls is unique in many respects, for example, in the shape and proportions of the bones,” said Beccari.
One of the two skulls described by the researchers came from a juvenile, while the other belonged to an animal that was almost an adult. Apart from their relative size, the differences between them in terms of bone structure are minor and only relate to proportions. The fossil dinosaur skulls will be transferred to the Natural History Museum of Denmark after studies are complete, as Denmark has sovereignty over Greenland…