German researchers have discovered a new species of dinosaur that measures barely more than six meters, the British science magazine Nature reported on Thursday.
Researchers of the University of Bonn unearthed the remains of at least 10 individual dinosaurs at a quarry near Hannover in northern Germany and found after examination that the new species, Europasaurus Holgeri, measured barely more than six meters from snout to tail, in comparison to its more famous relative Diplodocus measuring a mighty 27 meters.
When the researchers found the bones, they thought they were from juvenile dinosaurs, but examination revealed that the bones had a structure like those of adult dinosaurs, and that in the largest dinosaur, which measured 6.2 meters, the bones were fully developed.
The area where the bones were found would have been largely flooded when the dinosaurs lived there, around 150 million years ago, the researchers said, adding that food might have been scarce on the islands on which the dinosaurs lived, favoring the evolution of smaller reptiles.
"The little dinosaurs must have lived on one of the large islands around the Lower Saxony basin. This suggests that it is an island dwarf species that evolved through a decrease in growth rate from its larger ancestor," researcher Martin Sander who led the research was quoted as saying.
Similar, more recent, examples of such island dwarfing have been seen on the Indonesian island of Flores, which until a few thousand years ago was home to species such as dwarf elephants and Homo floresiensis, a tiny human, the magazine reported.