Image: Bailey Weiss uncovering a dinosaur fossil in the Eastern Cape
Bailey Weiss, an MSc student from the University of the Free State and currently working with Dr Jennifer Botha at the National Museum, Bloemfontein recently attended a field trip to the Eastern Cape with Professor Jonah Choiniere, from the Evolutionary Studies Institute, University of the Witwaterand, Johannesburg to prospect for dinosaur fossils. Bailey found the remains of a dinosaur that is approximately 200 million years old and may represent a new species.
Image: Brandon Stuart excavating a dinosaur skeleton in the Eastern Cape
Brandon Stuart is also a MSC student from the University of the Free State and is also working with Dr Jennifer Botha. He had an opportunity to work on the excavation of several dinosaur skeletons. It was hard work, but worth it as several new dinosaur fossils were found.
The South African Karoo Basin contains the best therapsid fossil record in the whole world giving us the exciting opportunity of being able to study the intricate details of the transition into mammals. These animals, that span a period of more than 80 million years from the Middle Permian to the Middle Jurassic, show the gradual acquisition of mammal-like characteristics until it is almost impossible to distinguish the latest most mammal-like therapsids from the earliest true mammals.
The National Museum’s Karoo Palaeontology Department conducts research on the biology, ecology and biostratigraphy of these very important animals. Regular field excursions to the Karoo have allowed them to expand their current vertebrate collection and thus conserve these fossils, which form an important part of South Africa’s natural heritage. The Head of Department is Dr Jennifer Both, who is a B- rated scientist with the NRF.
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