Fossils found in South Africa has uncovered a new species of dinosaur, according to a study published Thursday. "Not only does our country hold the cradle of humankind, but we also have fossils that help us understand the rise of the gigantic dinosaurs," South Africa's Minister of Science and Technology Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane said.
The study disclosed that the species of dinosaur was about twice the size of a modern-day African elephant, weighing more than 26,000 pounds or 13 tons and standing at about 13 feet tall, at the hips.
"It's the first true giant that evolves in a long line of dinosaurs called sauropod dinosaurs,” study co-author and paleontologist at the University of the Witwatersrand, Jonah Choiniere, said in a statement. One well-known sauropod - could weigh as much as 66 tons - is the brontosaurus.
“The name reflects the great size of the animal as well as the fact that its lineage appeared at the origins of sauropod dinosaurs,” Choiniere added.
The plant-eating dinosaur, which is known by the Latin name Ledumahadi mafube, is believed to have been the largest terrestrial animal when it existed some 200 million years ago.
“The first thing that struck me about this animal is the incredible robustness of the limb bones. It was of similar size to the gigantic sauropod dinosaurs, but whereas the arms and legs of those animals are typically quite slender, Ledumahadi’s are incredibly thick,” which means the dinosaur would have been crouched, standing like a domestic cat.
The scientist commented that the region of South Africa where the fossil was discovered was the origin of all the giant dinosaurs that later evolved.
"It shows how easily dinosaurs could have walked from Johannesburg to Buenos Aires at that time," Choiniere said.
Jennifer Botha-Brink, from the South African National Museum in Bloemfontein, determines that the specimen - which was found about 187 miles south of Johannesburg - was about 14 years old at the time of its death.