A team of paleontologists in the north of Zimbabwe says he found the remains of an ancient sauropodomorpha long-necked dinosaur, that roamed the earth about 230 million years ago.
The discovery of the newly named Mbiresaurus raathi, one of the oldest dinosaurs in the worldin that part of Africa would support the idea that dinosaurs were initially confined to a particular climate belt of a single supercontinent.
What do we know about Mbiresaurus raathi?
According to the team’s findings published in the journal Nature, Mbiresaurus stood on two legs and had a relatively small head like its dinosaur relatives. It also had small, serrated, triangle-shaped teeth, suggesting it was a herbivore or potentially omnivore.
As a sauropodomorph, Mbiresaurus is part of the lineage that gave rise to the sauropod dinosaurs, a group that includes diplodocus and brontosaurus.
The animal is estimated to have been around 6 feet long (1.82 meters) with a long tail and weighed between 20 and 65 pounds (9 to 30 kilograms).
The skeleton, incredibly, was mostly intact, with only a few parts of the hand and skull missing. It was first found by a Virginia Tech graduate student, Chris Griffin, and other paleontologists in two excavations in 2017 and 2019.
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What could the discovery of the ancient sauropodomorph show?
As we mentioned in AmericanPost.Newsthe finding could help explain the migration and distribution of the first dinosaurs at a time when the current continents were connected and formed a supercontinent: Pangea.
At the time, the theory is that latitude and climate controlled the distribution of such dinosaur species, rather than the continental divides that arose later when the continents drifted apart.
For that to be true, scientists would expect that the type of skeletons, previously found in deposits in South America and India, would also be found in south-central Africa. At that time, the three parts of the world were together at the same latitude in Pangea.
Griffin, now a postdoctoral researcher at Yale University, and his team had deliberately focused on northern Zimbabwe, since the country was in the same climate belt as southern Brazil and India during the Late Triassic Age. , when the animals would have lived.
“These are the oldest known definitive dinosaurs from Africa, roughly equivalent in age to the oldest dinosaurs found anywhere in the world,” Griffin explained.
Pangea’s climate is thought to have been divided into strong wet and arid latitudinal belts, with dinosaurs thriving where there was more moisture.
“Because dinosaurs initially dispersed under this weather pattern, early dinosaur dispersal should have been controlled by latitude,” Griffin said. “The oldest dinosaurs are known from roughly the same ancient latitudes along the southern temperate climate belt that it was at that time, about 50 degrees south.”
The findings together seem to show that the earliest dinosaurs thrived and were confined to those areas before spreading across the world and forming new species.
The team, outlining a two-pronged approach to support their theory, also used data to show that a northward dispersal of dinosaurs occurred with increased global humidity that broke down climate barriers and allowed them to spread.
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