Newly Discovered African Titanosaur Had a Distinctly Heart-Shaped Tailbone

Artist’s depiction of Mnyamawamtuka in its natural setting.
Illustration: Mark Witton

Titanosaurs were the giants of the giants—four-legged behemoths that stomped around Cretaceous South America and Africa 100 million years ago. The discovery of a previously unknown titanosaur in Tanzania with a unique heart-shaped tailbone is adding to our knowledge of these enigmatic beasts, and how they lived and evolved on the African continent.

The name of this new titanosaur—Mnyamawamtuka moyowamkia, pronounced “Mm-nya-ma-wah-mm-too-ka mm-oh-yo-wa-mm-key-ah”—means “animal of the Mtuka with a heart-shaped tail” in Swahili, with the Mutka being a dried-up river bed near the cliff along the East African Rift System in southwestern Tanzania where the 100-million-year-old fossilized bones were…

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