Technology & Science

New dinosaur species found in South Africa

Scientists say they've discovered a new dinosaur species in South Africa that may help explain how the creatures evolved into the largest animals on land.

Researchers have discovered a new dinosaur species in South Africa that may help explain how the creatures evolved into the largest animals on Earth.

The fossilized bones of a new dinosaur species, Aardonyx celestae, are displayed during an announcement of the discovery at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. ((Denis Farrell/Associated Press))
Paleontologist Adam Yates from the University of the Witwatersrand presented an incomplete skeleton of the Aardonyx celestae at a news conference in Johannesburg Wednesday.

The findings of Yates and his team have been published in the Royal Society journal Proceedings B.

Yates said the dinosaur may represent the evolutionary gap between the early two-legged ancestors of dinosaurs and the four-legged giants familiar to most people.

"What we have is a big, short-footed, barrel-chested, long-necked, small-headed dinosaur," Yates told the BBC.

"The earliest ancestral dinosaur — the great granddaddy of all dinosaurs — walked on two legs. This [one] is intermediate between those bipedal forms and the true gigantic sauropods."

The species was a plant eater dating back about 200 million years to the early Jurassic period. The dinosaur walked on its hind legs but could drop to all fours and stood nearly 1.7 metres high at the hip.

With files from The Associated Press