This dinosaur fossil reveals the secrets of the distribution of the first species on Earth

This dinosaur fossil reveals the secrets of the distribution of the first species on Earth
Reconstruction of the dinosaur Mbiresaurus raathi
ANDREÏ ATUCHIN / VIRGINIA TECH Reconstruction of the dinosaur Mbiresaurus raathi

ANDREÏ ATUCHIN / VIRGINIA TECH

DINOSAURS – Never had a dinosaur from this period been discovered in Africa. Scientists announced, this Thursday, September 1 in Zimbabwe, the discovery of the remains of the oldest dinosaur from Africa. It roamed the Earth about 230 million years ago. Appointed Mbiresaurus raathithe dinosaur was only about a meter tall, with a long tail and weighed up to 30 kg, according to the international team of paleontologists who made the discovery.

It was during two excavations that paleontologists discovered a part of skeletons and the results of this research were published on August 31 in the journal Nature and relayed by ScienceDaily. “He ran on two legs and had a rather small head”Yale University scientist Christopher Griffin, who unearthed the first bone, told AFP.

“It’s probably a omnivorous which fed on plants, small animals and insects. The dinosaur belongs to the ‘sauropodomorph’ species, the same lineage that would later include giant long-necked dinosaurs.says the scientist.

The skeleton was found during two expeditions in 2017 and 2019 by a team of researchers from Zimbabwe, Zambia and the United States. “I dug out the whole femur and knew then that it was a dinosaur and that I had the oldest known dinosaur fossil in Africa”recalls Christopher Griffin, who was then a doctoral student at Virginia Tech University.

Skeleton anatomy of Mbiresaurus raathi
Christopher Griffin et al., doi: 10.1038/s41586-022-05133-x. Skeleton anatomy of Mbiresaurus raathi

Christopher Griffin et al., doi: 10.1038/s41586-022-05133-x.

Similarities between Mbiresaurus raathi and other South American dinosaurs

Dinosaur remains from the same era had previously only been found in South America and India. Paleontologists chose Zimbabwe to dig after calculating that when all the continents were connected into a single land mass known as Pangea, it lay at roughly the same latitude as earlier discoveries made in modern South America.

“Mbiresaurus raathi is remarkably similar to some dinosaurs of the same age found in Brazil and Argentina, which reinforces the fact that South America and Africa were part of a continuous landmass”said Max Langer, attached to the biology department of the University of São Paulo in Brazil.

The dinosaur’s name refers to the Mbire district in northeastern Zimbabwe, where the skeleton was found, and to paleontologist Michael Raath, who first reported fossils from this region. Other specimens have been discovered in this area, all of which have been deposited in the Zimbabwe Museum of Natural History in the country’s second largest city, Bulawayo.

“The discovery of Mbiresaurus is exciting and special for Zimbabwe and the entire paleontological field”said museum curator Michel Zondo. “The fact that the skeleton of Mbiresaurus is nearly complete makes it perfect reference material for further discoveries”he added.

See also on The HuffPost: 70 Million Year Old Dinosaur Found In Brazil

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