Scientists in Zimbabwe have found the stays of Africa’s oldest dinosaur, which roamed the earth round 230 million years in the past.
The dinosaur, named Mbiresaurus raathi, was solely about one meter (3.2 toes) tall, with a protracted tail, and weighed as much as 30 kilograms (66 kilos), in accordance with the worldwide workforce of paleontologists that made the invention.
“It ran around on two legs and had a fairly small head,” Christopher Griffin, the scientist who unearthed the primary bone, informed AFP on Thursday.
Probably an omnivore that ate vegetation, small animals and bugs, the dinosaur belongs to the sauropodomorph species, the identical linage that may later embody large long-necked dinosaurs, mentioned Griffin, a 31-year-old researcher at Yale University.
The skeleton was discovered throughout two expeditions in 2017 and 2019 by a workforce of researchers from Zimbabwe, Zambia, and the United States.
“I dug out the entire femur and I knew in that moment, that it was a dinosaur and I was holding Africa’s oldest known dinosaur fossil,” mentioned Griffin, who on the time was a Ph.D. candidate at Virginia Tech University.
His workforce’s findings have been first printed in journal Nature on Wednesday.
Dinosaurs’ stays from the identical period had beforehand been discovered solely in South America and India.
The paleontologists chosen the Zimbabwe website for digging after calculating that when all continents have been related in a single land mass generally known as Pangea, it laid roughly on the identical latitude of earlier findings in trendy day South America.
“Mbiresaurus raathi is remarkably similar to some dinosaurs of the same age found in Brazil and Argentina, reinforcing that South America and Africa were part of continuous landmass during the Late Triassic,” mentioned Max Langer of the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil.
The dinosaur is known as after the Mbire district, northeast of Zimbabwe, the place the skeleton was discovered, and paleontologist Michael Raath, who first reported fossils on this area.
“What this (discovery) does is it broadens the range that we knew the very first dinosaurs lived in,” Griffin mentioned.
Other specimens have been found within the space, and all are reposited within the Natural History Museum of Zimbabwe, within the second largest metropolis, Bulawayo.
“The discovery of the Mbiresaurus is an exciting and special find for Zimbabwe and the entire palaeontological field,” mentioned museum curator Michel Zondo.
“The fact that the Mbiresaurus skeleton is almost complete, makes it a perfect reference material for further finds.”
Christopher Griffin, Africa’s oldest dinosaurs reveal early suppression of dinosaur distribution, Nature (2022). DOI: 10.1038/s41586-022-05133-x. www.nature.com/articles/s41586-022-05133-x
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Africa’s oldest dinosaur present in Zimbabwe (2022, September 3)
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