An international team of paleontologists led by Virginia Tech has discovered the oldest dinosaur known to Africa, found with its skeleton nearly intact in northern Zimbabwe.
The sauropodomorph — a long-necked dinosaur — was named Mbiresaurus raathi, according to a paper published last week in the journal Nature. Its skeleton suggests it was about 6 feet long with a long tail, and weighed between 20 and 65 pounds. Only some of its hand and portions of the skull are missing.
The dinosaur stood on two legs, with small, serrated and triangle-shaped teeth in a small head. This suggests the dinosaur was an herbivore or perhaps an omnivore.
“These are Africa’s oldest-known definitive dinosaurs, roughly equivalent in age to the oldest dinosaurs found anywhere in the world,” said Christopher Griffin, who completed his studies at Virginia Tech in 2020 and is now at Yale doing postdoctoral work.
“The oldest known dinosaurs — from roughly 230 million years ago, the Carnian Stage of the Late Triassic period — are extremely rare and have been recovered from only a few places worldwide, mainly northern Argentina, southern Brazil, and India.”
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