Scientists Unearth Africa’s Oldest Known Dinosaur, Filling a Critical Gap in the Fossil Record

In addition to the discovery of Mbiresaurus, the group of researchers from VA Tech, the Natural History Museum, and the National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe, also have a new theory on dinosaur migration, including the when and where.

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Africa, like all continents, was once part of the supercontinent called Pangea. The climate across Pangea is thought to have been divided into strong humid and arid belts, with temperate belts spanning higher latitudes and intense deserts across the lower tropics of Pangea.

Scientists previously believed that these climate belts influenced and constrained animal distribution across Pangea, said Griffin.

“Because dinosaurs initially dispersed under this climatic pattern, the early dispersal of dinosaurs should therefore have been controlled by latitude,” Griffin said.

More so, these earliest dinosaurs were restricted by climatic bands to southern Pangea, and only later in their history dispersed worldwide.

The teams from Zimbabwe’s scientific institutions were excited and proud by the finding.

“The discovery of the Mbiresaurus is an exciting and special find for Zimbabwe and the entire paleontological field,” said Michel Zondo, a curator and fossil preparer at The Natural History Museum.

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“The fact that the Mbiresaurus skeleton is almost complete makes it a perfect reference material for further finds. It is the first sauropodomorph find of its size from Zimbabwe, otherwise most of our sauropodomorph finds from here are usually of medium to large sized animals.”

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