Discovery of 'Bandit' dinosaur fills in Madagascar fossil record

April 19, 2013 at 3:13 PM

CLAREMONT, Calif., April 19 (UPI) -- Paleontologists say the first new dinosaur fossil found in Madagascar in nearly a decade has helped fill in a big hole in the island country's dinosaur record.

The meat-eating dinosaur, which has a scientific name of Dahalokely tokana but was dubbed "Lonely small bandit," was from a class of dinosaurs called abelisauroids and looked like a small T. rex, moving on two large hind legs with two tiny forearms, they said.

Its "Lonely bandit" tag, from the Malagasy language, comes from the fact that Dahalokely, which likely grew to about 9 to 14 feet long, probably hunted and scavenged for meat when Madagascar and India were connected yet isolated from other continents, the researchers said.

"We had always suspected that abelisauroids were in Madagascar 90 million years ago, because they were also found in younger rocks on the island," project leader Andrew Farke of the Raymond M. Alf Museum of Paleontology in Clairemont, Calif., said in a museum release.

Before the discovery of Dahalokely, dinosaurs that lived 165 million years ago and 70 million years ago had been found in Madagascar, so the 90-million-year-old "bandit" nicely fills in a bit of that fossil record gap, the researchers said.

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