martedì 12 gennaio 2016

Tanzanian Dinosaurs of Tendaguru

Between 1909 and 1913, the Institute of Geology and Paleontology and the museum of the Berlin University led the german Tendaguru expedition. Thousands of skeletal remains from dinosaurs were recovered from the layers of the Jurassic perioda at Tendaguru Hill, in southern coast of Tanzania. The spectacular high point of the field-work was the discovery of the giant Brachiosaurus skeleton, one of the biggest land animals the world has ever known and the tallest dinosaur skeleton ever discovered. Dinosaur bones were recovered at more than 100 excavations sites at Tendaguru. The expedition’s great succes would have been impossible without the efforts of the nearly 500 local excavation assistants. Carriers
struggled to bring the heavy loads of bone to the port of Lindi over impervious terrain, which often took three or four days. Finally, 5.000 loads with a combined weight of around 250 tons were shipped to Germany. Dinosaurs of Tendaguru nowadays occupy the central hall of National History Museum in Berlin (Museum fur Naturkunde).

Kentrosaurus belongs to the same group of Stegosaurus. There is some debate about the function of the bony plates running down the back and tail. Scientists offered three different explanations: weapons of defence, communication with other kentrosaurs and mating behaviour or playing a role in regulating body temperature.

The only well-preserved theropod from Tendaguru is Elaphrosaurus bambergi. Like many predatory dinosaurs, Elaphrosaurus was specialised in speed. Speed and powerful sprints enabled the Elaphrosaurus to hunt even such nimble prey as the plant-eating Dysalotosaurus.

The smallest dinosaur from Tendaguru is the plant-eater Dysalotosaurus. Its body structure suggests that it was a fast and agile runner. Dozens of skeletons were found on just a single excavation site. Scientists believe that these animals lived in herds.

The biggest, thoughest and most dangerous predator found in Tendaguru was the Allosaurus. These predators could grow up to 13 metres in length and could weigh up to seven tonnes. Since the skull is much more powerful than was needed t seems  that Allosaurus had a uniquemethod for killing its prey. It would open its jaws as wide as possible, run as fast as it could into its prey, and drive its teeth deeply into the body of its victim.

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