New Sesotho-named dinosaur from South Africa

sefapanoSouth 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.”

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 paper, titled: “A new basal sauropodiform from South Africa and the phylogenetic relationships of basal sauropodomorphs,” was published online on Tuesday, 23 June 2015.The specimen was found in the late 1930s in the Zastron area of South Africa’s Free State province, about 30km from the Lesotho border. For many years it remained hidden among the largest fossil collection in South Africa at the Evolutionary Studies Institute (ESI) at Wits University.

A few years ago it was studied and considered to represent the remains of another South African dinosaur, Aardonyx. However, upon further study, close scrutiny of the fossilised bones has revealed that it is a completely new dinosaur.

One of the most distinctive features is that one of its ankle bones, the astragalus, is shaped like a cross. Considering the area where the fossil was discovered, the researchers aptly named the new dinosaur, Sefapanosaurus, after the Sesotho word “sefapano,” meaning “cross.”

Anusuya Chinsamy-Turan, co-author and Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at UCT, says: “The discovery of Sefapanosaurus shows that there were several of these transitional early sauropodomorph dinosaurs roaming around southern Africa about 200 million years ago.”

Dr Alejandro Otero, Argentinian palaeontologist and lead author, says Sefapanosaurus helps to fill the gap between the earliest sauropodomorphs and the gigantic sauropods. “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.”

source : http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/06/150624105940.htm





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