Scientists have discovered the remains of Africa’s oldest dinosaurs, which lived around 230 million years ago, in Zimbabwe. The dinosaur, known as Mbiresaurus raathi, was found on two expeditions in 2017 and 2019 by a group of researchers from Zimbabwe, Zambia, and the United States. The dinosaur species is roughly equivalent in age to the oldest dinosaurs in the world. The newly discovered dinosaur ran around on two legs and had a small head. Scientists believe the species is an omnivore that eats plants, small animals, and insects. It belongs to the sauropodomorph species, the same linkage as giant long-necked dinosaurs like Diplodocus, Brachiosaurus, and Apatosaurus. While the true sauropods weighed around 80,000 kg and measured 30–40 meters long.
They discovered an almost intact skeleton, missing only some of the forearms and a portion of the skull. It was only about one meter tall, with a long tail, and weighed up to 30 kg. This finding sheds light on the geographical gap and helps explain the emergence of dinosaurs. It is believed that Africa was once a part of the supercontinent Pangaea, and the supercontinent’s climate was divided into extremes of aridity and humidity along Earth’s latitudes. Previously, scientists hypothesized that these climate belts influenced and constrained animal distribution. Northern Zimbabwe fell along the same climate belt as southern Brazil and India during the late Triassic. Dinosaurs are believed to have adapted to high altitudes like present-day Zimbabwe, which was humid and had ample vegetation. This discovery might be what scientists are looking for to prove the theory of continental drift.
The evolution of dinosaur’s is still being studied and how they came to be and how they got extinct is more complicated than what has been previously predicted. The discovered fossils will contribute to paleontology in Zimbabwe and the long search to understand the questions regarding dinosaurs. The entire skeleton and the additional fossils that were discovered will be kept at Zimbabwe’s Natural History Museum.