MOSCOW: Russian scientists have identified a new giant herbivorous dinosaur with a long neck and tail, which lived on Earth about 130 million years ago.
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Palaeontologists from St Petersburg University in Russia have named the new dinosaur as the Volgatitan.
Seven of its vertebrae were found on the banks of the Volga, near Ulyanovsk in Russia, according to the study published in journal Biological Communications.
The Volgatitan belongs to the group of sauropods -- giant herbivorous dinosaurs with a long neck and tail, who lived on Earth about 200 to 65 million years ago.
Weighing around 17 tonnes, the dinosaur was not the largest among its relatives, and was described from seven caudal vertebrae, researchers said.
The bones belonged to an adult dinosaur which is manifested by neural arches -- parts of the vertebrae protecting the nerves and blood vessels -- which completely merged with the bodies of the vertebrae, they said.
Along with the Volgatitan from Russia, 12 valid dinosaur taxa have already been described.
There are only three sauropods among them: Tengrisaurus starkovi, Sibirotitan astrosacralis and Volgatitan simbirskiensis.
"Previously, it was believed that the evolution of titanosaurs took place mainly in South America with some taxa moving into North America, Europe and Asia only in the Late Cretaceous," said Aleksandr Averianov, a professor at St Petersburg University.
"In Asia, representatives of a broader group of titanosauriform, such as the recently described Siberian titanium, dominated in the early Cretaceous," Averianov said.
However, he said, the recent description of the Tengrisaurus from the Early Cretaceous of Transbaikal Region and the finding of the Volgatitan indicate that titanosaurs in the Early Cretaceous were distributed much more widely.
Important stages of their evolution may have taken place in Eastern Europe and Asia, Averianov said.