The "Giant Thunderclap at Dawn"
This is why I get excited about dinosaurs!
The new discovery of "Ledumahadi Mafube" is changing the way scientists look at the evolution of sauropods.
Its name literally translates to the “Giant Thunderclap at Dawn.”
The animal lived in South Africa around 200 million years ago in the early Jurassic period. A time we originally thought had no giant animals of this size. It weighed in at about 12 metric tons, or upwards of 26,000 pounds and was 4 meters tall at the hip.
What makes Ledumahadi significant isn’t just its size. Its body plan is what makes this animal so fascinating. It was a sauropodomorph, a precursor to sauropods, and reveals it was possible to obtain enormous size much earlier, and without key anatomical adaptations, than thought.
The particular suite of anatomical traits Ledumahadi had, unique in the fossil record, offers more evidence that quadrupedalism evolved multiple times and multiple ways among sauropodomorphs, including in lineages, like Ledumahadi’s, that dead-ended before evolving into proper sauropods.
All this together makes Ledumahadi Mafube one of the most important dinosaur discoveries ever! It means there could be a whole new spectrum of dinosaurs out there we didn't even know could have existed at the time.
And they evolved very quickly after the end-Triassic extinction event.
Want to know more? Watch this short video