New dinosaur species found in South Africa
Johannesburg: A newly discovered dinosaur species that roamed the Earth about 200 million years ago may help explain how the creatures evolved into the largest animals on land, said scientists in South Africa.
The Aardonyx celestae was a 23-foot-long small-headed herbivore with a huge barrel of a chest. It walked on its hind legs but also could drop to all fours, and scientists told
reporters that could prove to be a missing evolutionary link.
This is a species "that no one has seen before and one that has a very significant position in the family tree of dinosaurs," said Australian paleontologist Adam Yates.
Yates, who is based at the University of the Witwatersrand`s Bernard Price Institute for Paleontological Research, led the research with a number of other local and international scientists.
Their findings were published yesterday in the Proceedings of The Royal Society B, a London-based peer-reviewed journal.
The Aardonyx celestae species dates back to the early Jurassic period. Yates said the creature found in South Africa stood nearly 6 feet high at the hip and weighed about 500 kilograms. It was about 10 years old when it died, and its death may have been caused by drought.
The newly discovered species shares many characteristics with the plant-eating herbivores that walked on two legs, Yates said.
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