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UCT-led team makes new dinosaur discovery


A team of scientists from universities in SA, the UK and Brazil have discovered the first evidence of a large carnivorous dinosaur roaming Southern Africa 200 million years ago, according to a statement from the University of Cape Town (UCT). A new study published by the team reveals a 50cm wide, 57cm long, three-toed footprint of the large animal colloquially known as a megatheropod - a major contrast from the usual small dinosaurs with a body length of between 3m - 5m.

"With an estimated body length of about 9m and hip height of 2.7m, this animal would have roamed a landscape otherwise dominated by much smaller carnivorous dinosaurs and a variety of herbivorous and omnivorous dinosaurs," read the statement. What makes the discovery scientifically impactful is the fact that during Early Jurassic days, dinosaurs were relatively smaller, and only started growing within the Late Jurassic and Early to Middle Cretaceous - about 120 million years ago.

Lara Sciscio, lead author on the publication, explained the meaning behind the name - Ambrokholohali - given to the megatheropod tracks of the new species of dinosaur discovered. "This name was... derived in honour of Emeritus Professor David Ambrose for his detailed recording of the trace fossil heritage within the Roma Valley, Lesotho. In trying to relocate one of Prof Ambrose's sites, we discovered the newly exposed megatheropod tracks reported in the article."

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