The research of an international team co-led by SMU paleontologist Louis L. Jacobs is receiving worldwide coverage for discovery of the first fossil of a dinosaur from Angola. A paper published in the “Annals of the Brazilian Academy of Science” described the long-necked, plant-eating sauropod based on a fossilized forelimb with unique skeletal characteristics that indicates it’s from a previously unknown dinosaur.

An Associated Press story covering discovery of the 90-million-year-old fossil has been published and aired by numerous media outlets, including The New York Times, Newsday, NPR, Forbes, The Daily Mail, and the Hamburger Abendblatt,

SMU paleontologist Michael J. Polcyn is also a member of the Projecto PaleoAngola team.

The PaleoAngola researchers have described Angola as a “museum in the ground” for the abundance of fossils there.

A professor in Dedman College’s Roy M. Huffington Department of Earth Sciences, Jacobs joined SMU’s faculty in 1983.

Besides Angola, Jacobs also does field work in Mongolia. His book, “Lone Star Dinosaurs” (1999, Texas A&M University Press) was the basis of an exhibit at the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History that traveled the state. He consulted on the new exhibit, Mysteries of the Texas Dinosaurs, which opened in 2009.

In the laboratory, Jacobs’ research utilizes advanced imaging and stable isotope techniques to investigate paleoenvironmental, biogeographic and phylogenetic issues of the Mesozoic and Cenozoic eras.

Polcyn is director of the Visualization Laboratory in SMU’s Department of Earth Sciences and an SMU adjunct research associate.

A world-recognized expert on the extinct marine reptile named Mosasaur, his research interests include the early evolution of Mosasauroidea and adaptations in secondarily aquatic tetrapods. Polcyn’s research also includes application of technology to problems in paleontology.

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By The Associated Press
Scientists say they have discovered the first fossil of a dinosaur in Angola, and that it’s a new creature, heralding a research renaissance in a country slowly emerging from decades of war.

A paper published Wednesday in the Annals of the Brazilian Academy of Sciences describes a long-necked, plant-eating sauropod, among the largest creatures ever to have walked the earth. The international team that found and identified the fossilized forelimb bone say it is from a previously unknown dinosaur, citing unique skeletal characteristics.

The fossil was found along with fish and shark teeth in what would have been a sea bed 90 million years ago, leading its discoverers to believe the dinosaur might have been washed into the sea and torn apart by ancient sharks.

The new dinosaur has been dubbed Angolatitan adamastor — Angolatitan means “Angolan giant” and the adamastor is a sea giant from Portuguese sailing myths.

Matthew F. Bonnan, a sauropod expert at Western Illinois University, was not involved with the Angolan research. But after reading the report, he said he expected their claim to have found a new dinosaur to hold up.

“I think they’ve been very careful,” he said, adding the find could add to knowledge about how sauropods adapted to different environments.

Bonnan also said it was “really cool” to see such research coming out of Angola.

“The neat thing about dinosaur paleontology is that it’s becoming more global,” he said, saying that was giving scientists a global perspective on the evolution of dinosaurs.

“The more people and places that we involve in science, the better off we all are,” Bonnan said.

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