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Kholumolumo ellenbergerorum, gen. et sp. nov., a new early sauropodomorph from the lower Elliot Formation (Upper Triassic) of Maphutseng, Lesotho

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posted on 17.04.2020, 08:30 authored by Claire Peyre de Fabrègues, Ronan Allain

A dozen non-sauropodan sauropodomorph genera are currently known from southern Africa. The vast majority of the specimens were unearthed in South Africa, but a few were found in Lesotho. We provide here the first complete anatomical description of a historical specimen from Lesotho: ‘the Maphutseng dinosaur.’ The first remains of this animal were uncovered in 1955 and cited in a scientific publication in 1956. Since then, the Maphutseng assemblage has been mentioned in several papers and named on two occasions but never formally published. The bone bed has delivered a huge amount of material from all the regions of the skeleton, of which a small part is described herein. Based on these skeletal elements, and given the unique anatomy of this early sauropodomorph, the new species Kholumolumo ellenbergerorum, gen. et sp. nov., is erected. The remains come from a large number of individuals, making the species the most complete to date from the lower Elliot Formation. Considering all of the material from the Upper Triassic of Gondwana, it is also one of the longest genera known, with adults estimated at up to 9 m long. Despite the large size of the new taxon, it is clearly bipedal and nested deeply among other non-sauropodan sauropodomorphs, suggesting that it is not linked to the origin of Sauropoda.