A massive, new dinosaur that was discovered in South Africa was given a name that means "giant thunderclap at dawn," which is very much appropriate for an animal that may have been the largest during its time.
The recently unearthed fossil is a relative of the brontosaurus, and its size brings to mind recent dinosaur discoveries such as the largest dinosaur foot fossil ever excavated and the "amazing dragon" fossils found in China.
Ledumahadi Mafube: The Massive Dinosaur Discovered In South Africa
A new dinosaur species that was recently discovered in South Africa is believed to have weighed 26,000 pounds, double the size of a large African elephant and possibly the largest dinosaur when it lived 200 million years ago.
Researchers have given the dinosaur the name Ledumahadi mafube, which means "a giant thunderclap at dawn" in the indigenous South African language of Sesotho. The language is spoken where the fossil was discovered.
Ledumahadi mafube was an herbivore that stood at 4 meters high at the hips, and is among the closest relatives of sauropods, which are characterized by their long necks and tails. However, the new dinosaur evolved to its giant stature independently from sauropods, and while it stood on four legs, its forelimbs were more crouched. This is why scientists view Ledumahadi mafube as an "evolutionary experiment."
The fossil of the Ledumahadi mafube revealed several other interesting tidbits, such as the "incredible robustness of the limb bones," according to Blair McPhee, the lead author of the study on the dinosaur that was published in the Current Biology journal. While the giant sauropods usually had slender arms and legs, those of the Ledumahadi mafube were very thick.
The researchers also found that the Ledumahadi mafube resembled other large dinosaurs in Argentina that lived in the same time period, reinforcing the belief that supercontinent Pangaea was still present during the Early Jurassic.
The Meaning Behind Ledumahadi Mafube's Name
Jonah Choiniere, University of the Witwatersrand paleontology professor and coauthor of the study, explained that the name has a double meaning.
"A giant thunderclap at dawn" reflects the dinosaur's massive size and its booming entry into any landscape upon its arrival. However, it also relates to the fact that it appeared just as sauropods were emerging.
The discovery of Ledumahadi mafube, meanwhile, was seen by Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, South Africa's Minister of Science and Technology, as proof of the importance of paleontology in South Africa.
"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," Kubayi-Ngubane said.