Researchers ‘discover’ a new dinosaur species hiding in Johannesburg

south africa dinosaur ngwevu intloko

Researchers from London’s Natural History Museum (NHM) and Johannesburg’s Wits University have identified a new species of dinosaur that has been hiding in a collection in Johannesburg for more than 30 years.

Yes, it was exhumed in 1978, but was believed to be “misidentified”. Only recently have researchers properly identified and classified the sample as a separate species.

The paper, which was authored by Kimberley Chapelle of Wits’ Evolutionary Studies Insitute and Prof Paul Barrett of the NHM, was published in environmental sciences journal PeerJ.

The species’ new name is Ngwevu intloko which is Xhosa for “grey skull” (Red skull’s 200-million-year-old uncle, perhaps?).

The dinosaur was thought to belong to the genus Massospondylus that lived between the Triassic and Jurassic periods (back when Instagram and WhatsApp were down almost constantly).

“A few of us harboured suspicions that it might be something new and different,” said lead researcher Barrett as quoted on the Natural History Museum’s website.

“In particular, the skull of Ngwevu is much broader and boxier than that of Massospondylus, which is much narrower and taller in proportions.”

The specimen also died at around 10-years-old, researchers added, but weighed some 300 kilograms. Sounds like quite the voracious character, tbh.

Researchers are now looking through existing samples to better understand the differences between those previously believed to be Massospondylus, which were reportedly common in South Africa at the time.

Feature image: Massospondylus carinatus, by Nobu Tamura via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 3.0)

Andy Walker, former editor


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