Dinosaurs - Zimbabwe

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The oldest Dinosaur find in Africa, the Mbiresaurus raathi (findings published 2022) was unearthed (a full skeleton, which is rare!) in Mbire District.

There are many more Dinosaur finds in Zimbabwe, including:

Dinosaur Footprint Sites

In addition, the crocodile (see Facts on Zimbabwe Animals), is a direct descendent (and therefore may be actually be a Dinosaur) is native to Zimbabwe.

Dinosaurs found in Zimbabwe:


Coelophysis - by Darren Pepper

(The name means hollow form and is pronounced - seel-OH-fie-sis)
Type: It was a small theropod, about 2 meters long and 27 kg in weight. It stood and moved on it's two hind legs.
Diet: It was carnivorous, with small sharp teeth.
Age: They lived in the Late Triassic period - 225-190 million years ago.
Remains have also been found in - South Africa and USA.
Taxonomy: Dinosauria, Saurischia, Theropoda, Neotheropoda, Coelophysoidea, Coelophysidae.
Type species: bauri.

Early carnivores:
The Late Triassic Period was dominated by large reptiles called phytosaurs and rauisuchids. Early carnivorous dinosaurs like Coelophysis used their speed and agility to catch a variety of animals like insects and small reptiles. The sharp teeth and claws of Coelophysis helped them to hold and kill their food.

An early fossil find was an adult with what appeared to be young Coelophysis bones inside its rib cage. This led to speculation that Coelophysis ate each other when the opportunity arose. More recent analysis showed that the bones inside the ribcage were small crocodile.

Hollow bones, the meaning of Coelophysis, is due to their hollow limb bones, which is a feature shared by many other dinosaurs. Coelophysis would have had a lightly-built body, making it a swift, agile hunter.

Massospondylus by Deviantart

For size


Massospondylus by Dino Fandom

(The name means massive vertebrae and is pronounced - mass-oh-SPON-di-luss) It was named by Owen in 1854.
Type: It was a prosauropod, about 4 meters long and 70 kg in weight.
Diet: It was omnivorous, with small sharp teeth.
Age: They lived in the Early Jurassic - 208-204 million years ago.
Remains have also been found in - Lesotho, South Africa.
Taxonomy: Dinosauria, Saurischia, Sauropodomorpha, Prosauropoda, Plateosauria, Plateosauridae.
Type species: carinatus.


Vulcanodon by Dinosaurpictures

(The name means volcano tooth and is pronounced - vul-kan-oh-don) It was named by Raath in 1972.
Type: It was a sauropod, about 6.5 meters long.
Diet: It was herbivorous, with small sharp teeth.
Age: They lived in the Early Jurassic - 205-202 million years ago.
Taxonomy: Dinosauria, Saurischia, Sauropodomorpha, Sauropoda, Vulcanodontidae.
Type species: karibaensis.

Mbiresaurus raathi

Mbiresaurus raathi

(The name comes from Mbire District, and Michael Raath a palaeontologist.) It used to be referred to as the Rhodesian Dinosaur. It may be the oldest known dinosaur fossil in Africa. Rarely, a full skeleton was found.
Type: It was a sauropodomorph, and walked on two legs, although a relative of the sauropod, (which walked on four legs). It was about 1 meter tall and 30kg in weight.
Diet: It was an omnivore that fed on plants, small animals and insects. It had a long neck and jagged teeth.
Age: They lived in the Carnian stage, Triassic period - 230 million years ago (fossil finds of this age are rare).
Remains have also been found in - Argentina, Brazil and India.

Darlington Munyikwa, deputy director of National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe, and who was part of the expeditions, said the skeleton was discovered during two expeditions, in 2017 and 2019, to the Zambezi Valley, but findings were only published in the scientific journal Nature on 31 August 2022. It will also inform the dialogue on evolution and migration of early dinosaurs, back when the world was one huge continent (Pangaea) and Zimbabwe was at the same latitude (the far south) with India and South America. There are more sites that needed further exploration in the area. [1] [2] [3]

  1. Scientists have unearthed in Zimbabwe the remains of Africa's oldest dinosaur, which lived more than 230 million years ago., BBC, Published: 1 September 2022, Retrieved: 15 September 2022
  2. Oldest African dinosaur ever found unearthed in Zimbabwe, Live Science, Published: 1 September 2022, Retrieved: 15 September 2022
  3. Zimbabwe: Africa’s oldest dinosaur might have been… American, The Rhodesia Herald, Published: 6 September 2022, Retrieved: 13 September 2022

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