The oldest definitive dinosaur species ever discovered in Africa – and one of the oldest dino species to walk Earth – has been unearthed in Zimbabwe, a new study finds.

Adorable Little Sauropod Is Oldest Confirmed Dinosaur Ever Found in Africa

The finding sheds new light on dinosaur evolution, and on one of the most fundamental questions of Triassic paleontology: Why did dinosaurs live in only some parts of the ancient supercontinent Pangaea? Scientists began working on the Pebbly Arkose Formation in northern Zimbabwe in 2017. After five years of careful excavation and COVID delays, they’ve finally unveiled the dig’s star specimen: Mbiresaurus raathi, a nearly complete skeleton named after “Mbire,” the Shona dynasty that once ruled the region. The species name honors Michael Raath, who helped discover the first fossils in the area.

At roughly 230 million years old, the specimen is on par with the oldest dinosaurs ever found. Their results were published online Wednesday (Aug. 31) in the journal Nature. “The earliest dinosaurs were small – far from the giants we usually think of,” Christian Kammerer, a research curator of paleontology at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences who was not involved in the research, told Live Science in an email. The newly named dinosaur is a sauropodomorph, a relative of the towering (and iconic) long-necked sauropods like Brachiosaurus and Apatosaurus. At around 6 feet (2 meters) long, or about as long as a Shetland pony, and 1.5 feet (0.5 m) tall at the hip, M. raathi wasn’t tiny, but it would have been dwarfed by later sauropods, such as the massive 122-foot-long (37 m) Patagotitan.

Source: This news is originally published by sciencealert

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