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Africa’s oldest dinosaur within Zimbabwe

The skeleton of Africa's oldest dinosaur was found during two expeditions in 2017 and 2019
The skeleton of Africa’s oldest dinosaur was found during two expeditions in 2017 and 2019.

Scientists in Zimbabwe can see the remains of Africa’s oldest dinosaur, which roamed the planet earth around 230 million years back.

The dinosaur, named Mbiresaurus raathi, was no more than one meter (3.2 feet) tall, with an extended tail, and weighed around 30 kilograms (66 pounds), based on the international team of paleontologists that made the discovery.

“It ran around on two legs and had a reasonably small head,” Christopher Griffin, the scientist who unearthed the initial bone, told AFP on Thursday.

Probably an omnivore that ate plants, small animals and insects, the dinosaur is one of the sauropodomorph species, exactly the same linage that could later include giant long-necked dinosaurs, said Griffin, a 31-year-old researcher at Yale University.

The skeleton was found during two expeditions in 2017 and 2019 by way of a team of researchers from Zimbabwe, Zambia, and america.

“I dug out the complete femur and I knew for the reason that moment, that it had been a dinosaur and I was holding Africa’s oldest known dinosaur fossil,” said Griffin, who at that time was a Ph.D. candidate at Virginia Tech University.

His team’s findings were first published in journal Nature on Wednesday.

Dinosaurs' remains from the same era had previously been found only in South America and India
Dinosaurs’ remains from exactly the same era had previously been found only in SOUTH USA and India.

Dinosaurs’ remains from exactly the same era had previously been found only in SOUTH USA and India.

The paleontologists selected the Zimbabwe site for digging after calculating that whenever all continents were connected within a land mass referred to as Pangea, it laid roughly at exactly the same latitude of earlier findings in present day SOUTH USA.

“Mbiresaurus raathi is remarkably much like some dinosaurs of exactly the same age within Brazil and Argentina, reinforcing that SOUTH USA and Africa were section of continuous landmass through the Late Triassic,” said Max Langer of the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil.

The dinosaur is known as following the Mbire district, northeast of Zimbabwe, where in fact the skeleton was found, and paleontologist Michael Raath, who first reported fossils in this area.

“What this (discovery) does could it be broadens the number that people knew the 1st dinosaurs lived in,” Griffin said.

Other specimens were discovered in your community, and each is reposited in the Natural History Museum of Zimbabwe, in the next largest city, Bulawayo.

“The discovery of the Mbiresaurus can be an exciting and special find for Zimbabwe and the complete palaeontological field,” said museum curator Michel Zondo.

“The truth that the Mbiresaurus skeleton is nearly complete, helps it be an ideal reference material for further finds.”



More info: 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

2022 AFP

Citation: Africa’s oldest dinosaur within Zimbabwe (2022, September 3) retrieved 4 September 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-09-africa-oldest-dinosaur-zimbabwe.html

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