x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

A thunderous find

A new dinosaur discovery - aptly named "thunder thigh" in Greek - illustrates how scientific discoveries can be endangered by sheer carelessness.

The stegosaurus has its spikes. Triceratops, its horns. And the brontomerus - well, it has thighs that could kick a raptor into last week.

The newly discovered species described in this month's issue of Acta Palaeontologica Polonica is thought to have had massive rear capabilities, based on fragments of hipbones that hint at a slow step with large, muscled flanks. Pieced together by scientists in the UK, the new dinosaur - whose name aptly means "thunder thigh" in Greek - would have relied on strong kicks rather than quick getaways as a defence against predators. The fragments are an interesting find for paeleontologists, who are editing the timeline of when such dinosaurs roamed the earth.

Beyond its scientific impact, brontomeros mcintoshi is also a reminder that artefacts themselves are endangered. The bones were rescued from the Hotel Mesa Quarry, a site where fossil hunters rummage for finds in order to sell them. Various acts of vandalism or careless disregard - including using bones to hold down tents - were discovered by scientists.

Similar episodes of vandalism occurred weeks ago in Cairo, where priceless artefacts were looted from the national museum. Whether on the streets of Egypt or the quarries of Utah, ancient finds deserve respect. It doesn't say much about our future if we're so willing to ruin our past.