Scientists Discover New Herbivorous Dinosaur from South Africa

Posted on July 9, 2015

Scientists have identified a 200 million year old dinosaur from South Africa. The dinosaur has been named Sefapanosaurus from the Sesotho word "sefapano," which means cross. The dinosaur had an ankle bone shaped like a cross. A computer generated image of Sefapanosaurus is pictured above.

The fossils of the dinosaur were discovered in the 1930s but remained hidden in a huge fossil collection at the Evolutionary Studies Institute (ESI) at Wits University. Dr Alejandro Otero, Argentinian palaeontologist and lead author, and Emil Krupandan, a PhD-student from the University of Cape Town, noticed the bones in the Wits collection when they were studying early sauropodomorph dinosaurs. The fossil found included limb bones, foot bones, and several vertebrae.

Dr Alejandro Otero, lead author of the study, says Sefapanosaurus helps fill a gap between the earliest sauropodomorphs and the gigantic sauropods. He says, "Sefapanosaurus constitutes a member of the growing list of transitional sauropodomorph dinosaurs from Argentina and South Africa that are increasingly telling us about how they diversified."

Dr. Jonah Choiniere, a co-author and Senior Researcher in Dinosaur Palaeobiology at the ESI at Wits, says in a statement, "This new animal shines a spotlight on southern Africa and shows us just how much more we have to learn about the ecosystems of the past, even here in our own 'backyard.' And it also gives us hope that this is the start of many such collaborative palaeo-research projects between South Africa and Argentina that could yield more such remarkable discoveries."

A research paper on Sefapanosaurus was published here in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society.

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