DANDE- Scientists have discovered the remains of Mbiresaurus raathi, a new species of plant-eating dinosaur that roamed the earth 230 million years ago in Dande, Mbire District, Mashonaland Central.
By Victor Fanuel
Mbiresaurus raathi is named after the Mbire district where the fossils were discovered, as well as South African paleontologist Michael Raath, whose work in the area in the 1990s contributed to its discovery.
The Mbiresaurus was discovered courtesy of a partnership between the National Museum Monuments of Zimbabwe (NMMZ) and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in the United States.
The two institutions received funding from the geographical society to carry out scientific exploration in the Mbire District in 2017 and 2019.
NMMZ deputy director Darlington Munyikwa who doubles as the institution’s chief paleontologist said the groundbreaking discovery would shed more light on the evolution of the dinosaurs.
“This is an important scientific discovery for us as a nation as the Mbiresaurus is the oldest dinosaur so far found in Africa.
“Through this discovery we were able to link dinosaurs of the same age associated with it in other countries like Brazil, Argentina and India.
“Most importantly, this discovery shed light on the evolution and migration of early dinosaurs, back when the world was one massive continent and Zimbabwe, Brazil and Argentina were at the same latitude, ” said Munyikwa.
Munyikwa said the Mbiresaurus was a species of sauropodomorph, a relative of the sauropod, which walked on four legs.
“The distinguishing features of the Mbiresaurus are that it was a very small dinosaur, about two metres long.
“It had a very long neck compared to other dinosaurs, and very small triangular shaped teeth, and by doing so, it was either a herbivore or omnivore,” added Munyikwa
Munyikwa stated that the discovery of the Mbiresaurus demonstrated that there are still new and different dinosaur species to be discovered in the country.
He also stated that they were looking for additional funding to conduct future research on the new dinosaur species that roamed the country.
Although Mbiresaurus explorations were conducted in 2017 and 2019, it was recently recognized as a new species after its existence was peer reviewed by experts in the field, who determined that it was indeed a new species.