An international team of paleontologists led by Virginia Tech, USA has discovered and named a new dinosaur of considerable age.

The skeleton—incredibly, largely intact—was first found by a Virginia Tech Department of Geosciences graduate student and other paleontologists during two digs between 2017 and 2019.

The discovery of this new sauropodomorph (long-necked dinosaur) named Mbiresaurus raathi was published in the journal Nature. This is, so far, the oldest dinosaur skeleton ever found in Africa.

It is estimated that the animal was 2 meters long and had a long tail. It weighed between 10 and 30 kilograms. The skeleton, which is missing only part of a limb and parts of the skull, was found in Zimbabwe, in the north of the country.

What did the oldest dinosaur discovered in Africa look like?

“His discovery Mbiresaurus raathand fills a critical geographic gap in the fossil record of the earliest dinosaurs and shows the power of hypothesis-driven fieldwork to test predictions about the ancient past,” said Christopher Griffin, a former student at the Virginia Tech College of Science, quoted by EurekAlert.

From their findings, Mbiresaurus it stood on two legs and its head was relatively small, like its dinosaur relatives. It had small, jagged, triangular-shaped teeth, which suggests that it was most likely a herbivore, but the possibility that it was omnivorous is not excluded.

The skeleton, in a very good state of preservation

“We never expected to find such a complete and well-preserved dinosaur skeleton,” said Griffin, now a researcher at Yale University. “When we found his femur Mbiresaurus, I immediately recognized it as belonging to a dinosaur and knew I was holding the oldest dinosaur ever found in Africa. When I kept digging and found the left hip bone right next to the left thigh bone, I had to stop and take a breath – I knew a lot of the skeleton was probably there.”

Much of the specimen Mbiresaurus it is being held at Virginia Tech for the skeleton to be cleaned and studied. After that, all fossils found will be kept permanently at the Natural History Museum in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.

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