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Monday 26 August 2019

'Hiding in plain sight': New species of dinosaur is discovered after 30 years on display in museum

New species: The skull from a newly discovered dinosaur named Ngwevu intloko, which has been on display at the Natural History Museum in Johannesburg for three decades. Photo: Kimberley Chapelle/Natural History Museum/PA Wire
New species: The skull from a newly discovered dinosaur named Ngwevu intloko, which has been on display at the Natural History Museum in Johannesburg for three decades. Photo: Kimberley Chapelle/Natural History Museum/PA Wire

Nina Massey

It may have been three metres long - but a newly discovered dinosaur has been hiding in plain sight for three decades.

The new species has been identified after sitting in a museum collection in South Africa for 30 years.

Professor Paul Barrett, a researcher at the country's Natural History Museum, is part of a team that reassessed the specimen, which is being held at the University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.

The new dinosaur, named Ngwevu intloko - which means grey skull in the Xhosa language - has been described from a single fairly complete specimen with a remarkably well-preserved skull.

The specimen indicates it was most likely an omnivore, walked on two legs, had a chunky body, a long slender neck and a small boxy head.

Scientists say it would have measured three metres (9.84ft) from the tip of its snout to the end of its tail.

Prof Barrett said: "This is a new dinosaur that has been hiding in plain sight.

"The specimen has been in the collections in Johannesburg for about 30 years, and lots of other scientists have already looked at it.

"But they all thought that it was simply an odd example of Massospondylus."

Massospondylus was one of the first dinosaurs to reign at the start of the Jurassic period.

Researchers are now looking closer at many of the supposed Massospondylus specimens.

PhD student Kimberley Chapelle explained: "It is crucial to rule out the possibility that it is a younger or older version of an already existing species.

"This is a difficult task to accomplish with fossils because it is rare to have a complete age series of fossils from a single species."

The findings are published in the journal 'PeerJ'.

Irish Independent

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