South African and Argentinian palaeontologists have discovered a new 200 million year old dinosaur from South Africa, and named it Sefapanosaurus, from the Sesotho word “sefapano”, meaning “cross”.
The researchers from South Africa’s University of Cape Town (UCT) and the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits University), and from the Argentinian Museo de La Plata and Museo Paleontológico Egidio Feruglio made the announcement in the scientific journal, Zoological Journal of the Linnaean Society.
The specimen was found in the late 1930s in the Zastron area of South Africa’s Free State province, near the Lesotho border, but it had been lost among other fossils at Wits University.
When re-discovered a few years ago, scientists considered that it was the remains of another South African dinosaur, Aardonyx. Closer study since then has revealed that it is a completely new animal.
“The discovery of Sefapanosaurus shows that there were several of these transitional early sauropodomorph dinosaurs roaming around southern Africa about 200 million years ago,” says Anusuya Chinsamy-Turan, co-author and Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at UCT.
The dinosaur helps to fill the gap between the earliest sauropodomorphs and the gigantic sauropods, Dr Alejandro Otero, Argentinian palaeontologist and lead author, 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.”
The remains of the Sefapanosaurus include limb bones, foot bones, and several vertebrae.
Bill Condie is a science journalist based in Adelaide, Australia.
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