Mega Carnivore Dinosaur Discovered In Southern Africa

Posted: Oct 27 2017, 3:37am CDT | by , in News | Latest Science News

 
Mega Carnivore Dinosaur Discovered in Southern Africa
Credit: Fabien Knoll & Lara Sciscio

Researchers have found the first evidence of an extremely large meat-eating animal that roamed southern Africa 200 million year ago

Paleontologists have discovered a new gigantic carnivorous dinosaur from Southern Africa and named it Kayentapus ambrokholohali, a species from a group of giant two-legged dinosaurs called "megatheropod." The group also includes iconic Tyrannosaurus rex (T. rex), which could grow up to 40 feet long.

An anitial analysis suggests that the newly discovered dinosaur roamed Africa 200 million year ago during the Triassic Period. Scientists have so far found several three-toed footprints that measure 1.8 feet long and 1.6 feet wide. Based on these measurements, the dinosaur is estimated to be 30 feet long. That makes it four times the size of a lion, which is currently the largest carnivore in southern Africa.

The latest discovery is surprising and provides new insight into the distribution and diversity of carnivore that roamed what is now southern Africa.

“This discovery marks the first occurrence of very large carnivorous dinosaurs in the Early Jurassic of southern Gondwana - the prehistoric continent which would later break up and become Africa and other landmasses. This makes it a significant find. Globally, these large tracks are very rare. There is only one other known site similar in age and sized tracks, which is in Poland.” Dr Lara Sciscio, one of the researchers from University of Cape Town said in a statement.

The footprints are found on an ancient land surface located in the Maseru District of Lesotho, a small country in southern Africa. The surface is covered is sedimentary structures dating back to 200 million years. What makes the discovery even more important is that these footprints belong to Early Jurassic Period, which is mostly known for smaller theropod dinosaurs. Most of the dinosaurs found in that era were thought to be around 10 feet long.

It was not until the late Jurassic around 145 million years ago, when theropods were started to grow truly large and fossil records also support this theory.

Dr Fabien Knoll, a researcher from The University of Manchester says. “…it is the first evidence of an extremely large meat-eating animal roaming a landscape otherwise dominated by a variety of herbivorous, omnivorous and much smaller carnivorous dinosaurs. It really would have been top of the food chain.”

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.

 

 

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