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PeerJ. 2019 Aug 5;7:e7240. doi: 10.7717/peerj.7240. eCollection 2019.

Ngwevu intloko: a new early sauropodomorph dinosaur from the Lower Jurassic Elliot Formation of South Africa and comments on cranial ontogeny in Massospondylus carinatus.

Author information

1
Evolutionary Studies Institute, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa.
2
School of Geosciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa.
3
Department of Earth Sciences, Natural History Museum, London, United Kingdom.
4
Department of Karoo Palaeontology, National Museum, Bloemfontein, South Africa.
5
Department of Zoology and Entomology, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa.

Abstract

Our knowledge of Early Jurassic palaeobiodiversity in the upper Elliot Formation of South Africa has increased markedly in recent years with the discovery of new fossils, re-assessments of previously collected material and a better understanding of Stormberg Group stratigraphy. Here, Ngwevu intloko, a new genus of upper Elliot basal sauropodomorph is named on the basis of a complete skull and partial skeleton (BP/1/4779) previously assigned to Massospondylus carinatus. It can be distinguished from all other basal sauropodomorphs by a combination of 16 cranial and six postcranial characters. The new species is compared to a small ontogenetic series of M. carinatus as well as to a range of closely related taxa. Taphonomic deformation, sexual dimorphism and ontogeny are rejected as possible explanations for the morphological differences present between BP/1/4779 and other taxa. Osteohistological examination reveals that BP/1/4779 had nearly reached adult size at the time of its death at a minimum age of 10 years.

KEYWORDS:

Computed tomography scans; Elliot Formation; Massospondylus carinatus; Ngwevu intloko; Ontogeny; Osteohistology; Sauropodomorph; Stormberg; Taxonomy

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

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