Virginia Tech and Paleontology Teams in Zimbabwe Lead Discovery and Naming of Africa’s Oldest Known Dinosaur | VTX

Darlington Munyikwa, Deputy Executive Director of National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe, added: “The developing fossil assemblage of the Pebbly Arkose Formation in the Cabora Bassa Basin, which was hitherto known for its rarity of animal fossils, is exciting. A number of fossil sites [are] awaiting future exploration have been recorded, highlighting the potential of the area to add more valuable scientific material.

A large part of the Mbiresaurus specimen is kept in Derring Hall at Virginia Tech while the skeleton is cleaned and studied. The whole of the Mbiresaurus skeleton and additional fossils found will be permanently housed at the Zimbabwe Natural History Museum in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.

“This is such an exciting and important dinosaur discovery for Zimbabwe, and we have watched the scientific process unfold with great pride,” said Moira Fitzpatrick, museum director. She did not participate in the study. “It was a pleasure to work with Dr. Griffin, and we hope the relationship will continue in the future.”

The discovery of Mbiresaurus also marks another high point for the Paleobiology and Geobiology Research Group. In 2019 Nesbitt wrote an article detailing the newly named tyrannosauroid dinosaur Suskityrannus hazelae. Incredibly, Nesbitt discovered the fossil at age 16 while in high school and on a digging expedition in New Mexico in 1998.

“Our group seeks equal partnerships and collaborations around the world and this project demonstrates a very successful and valued collaboration,” Nesbitt said. “We will continue to study the many fossils from the same areas where the new dinosaur came from and further explore the fossil beds.”

Funding for the excavation and follow-up research came from several sources, including the National Geographic Society, US National Science Foundation, Geological Society of America, Paleontological Society, Virginia Tech Graduate School, Virginia Tech Department of Geosciences, and the Fundação de Amparo at Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo in Brazil.

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