The fossilized remains of Mansourasaurus were unearthed by an expedition undertaken by the Mansoura University Vertebrate Paleontology (MUVP) initiative, an initiative started by Dr. Hesham Sallam of the Department of Geology at Mansoura University in Mansoura, Egypt. Sallam is the lead author of the paper published today in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution that names the new species. The creature’s name honors both Mansoura University and Ms. Mona Shahin for her integral role in developing the MUVP.
Late Cretaceous dinosaur fossils in Africa are rare to find because most of the land where their fossils might be found is covered in lush vegetation, rather than the exposed rock of dinosaur treasure troves such as those in the Rocky Mountain region, the Gobi Desert, or Patagonia. The lack of a Late Cretaceous fossil record in Africa is frustrating for paleontologists since, at that time, the continents were undergoing massive geological and geographic changes.
Funding for the Mansourasaurus study was offered by grants from Mansoura University, the Jurassic Foundation, the Leakey Foundation, the National Geographic Society/Waitt Foundation, and the National Science Foundation (NSF).
Scientific discoveries are often compared to finding the last missing puzzle piece to complete a picture; Gorscak says that since so little is known about African dinosaurs, Mansourasaurus is better likened to an earlier step in the puzzle-solving process. “It’s like finding an edge piece that you use to help figure out what the picture is, that you can build from. Maybe even a corner piece.”