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New Dinosaur Species Discovered In Madagascar, Called The 'Lonely Bandit'

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First Posted: Apr 19, 2013 02:54 PM EDT
Dahalokely tokana, or better known as "Lonely Small Bandit", from the Raymond M. Alf Museum of Paleontology used to announce the new species of dinosaur discovered in Madagascar.

Dahalokely tokana, or better known as "Lonely Small Bandit", from the Raymond M. Alf Museum of Paleontology used to announce the new species of dinosaur discovered in Madagascar. Credit:Raymond M. Alf Museum of Paleontology

A new dinosaur has been discovered in Madagascar that scientists are referring to as the “lonely small bandit.”

Officially called Dahalokely tokana (which means lonely small bandit), the fossils were found in northern Madagascar near the city of Antsiranana.

The dinosaur likely roamed the Madagascar-India landmass 90 million years ago, before the continent slammed into Asia and Madagascar broke off and went down to southern Africa.

"This dinosaur was closely related to other famous dinosaurs from the southern continents, like the horned Carnotaurus from Argentina and Majungasaurus, also from Madagascar," member of the discovery team Joe Sertich said.

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Its location on the separated part of the continent makes it possible that the dinosaur could be an ancestor to later species in the Madagascar area.

According to Andrew Farke of the Raymond M. Alf Museum of Paleontology in Claremont, Calif., Dahalokely tokana was a carnivore that stood on two legs and was roughly the size of a cow. It was between nine and 14 feet long.

Farke explained that this new discovery helps diminish what was formerly a 95-million-year gap in the fossil record. Dahalokely tokana shortens that by 20 million years. It also clears up a theory that scientists had about dinosaurs on Madagascar.

"We had always suspected that abelisauroids were in Madagascar 90 million years ago, because they were also found in younger rocks on the island," Farke said. "But the fossils of Dahalokely are tantalizingly incomplete — there is so much more we want to know. Was Dahalokely closely related to later abelisauroids on Madagascar, or did it die out without descendents?"

Abelisauroids lived in the Cretaceous period, with fossils being discovered not only in Madagascar, but other parts of Africa, South America and India.

Dahalokely tokana was excavated back in 2007 and 2010. Ribs and vertebrae were recovered, with scientists noting the uniqueness of cavities on the sides of the vertebrae. These were unlike that of any other dinosaur discovered yet, according to the museum.

The project was financed by the Jurassic Foundation, Sigma Xi, National Science Foundation and the Raymond M. Alf Museum of Paleontology.

Jurassic Park 4 just had some potential new material handed to it.

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