British and Moroccan scientists said Tuesday they had found the remains of two new species of extinct animals in the Saharan desert, describing the find as one of the most important of the past 50 years.
The team of paleontologists said they had unearthed a new species of pterosaur, a flying reptile from the Mesozoic era, and a new type of sauropod, a giant four-legged herbivore from the Jurassic period.
The two animals, which were found in southeast Morroco near the Algerian border, date back around 100 million years, Portsmouth University said in a statement.
Paleontologists from the southern English university made the find with others from University College Dublin in Ireland (UCD), and the Universite Hassan II in Casablanca in Morocco.
Researchers found what they described as a large fragment of a beak from a giant flying reptile, along with bone from a sauropod measuring more than a metre (3.3 feet) in length.
The bone from the sauropod — which is classed as a dinosaur unlike the pterosaur — indicates that it was around 20 metres (65 feet) in length.
“Finding two specimens in one expedition is remarkable, especially as both might well represent completely new species,” said Nizar Ibrahim, a UCD expert on North African dinosaurs who led the expedition.
The discoveries will be return to Morocco and put on display after they are studied in Dublin.