Malawisaurus (Malawi lizard)
L. L. Jacobs, D. A. Winkler, W. R. Downs & E. M. Gomani – 1993
Estimated up to 16 meters long
M. dixeyi (type)
Africa, Malawi – Dinosaur Beds Formation
Early Cretaceous, 110-100 million years ago
Malawisaurus is a genus of titanosaurian sauropod dinosaur that lived during the Early Cretaceous period, around 110 to 100 million years ago, in what is now Africa. Its name means “Malawi lizard”, in reference to the country where its fossils were first discovered.
The remains of Malawisaurus were first discovered in Malawi in 1895, but it wasn’t until 1981 that a team of paleontologists led by Louis Jacobs discovered more complete fossils of the dinosaur in the same region. These fossils included a nearly complete skull, as well as neck, back, and tail vertebrae, ribs, and limb bones.
Based on the available fossils, Malawisaurus was a large, long-necked sauropod that measured up to 16 meters (52 feet) in length and weighed several tons. It had a relatively short neck compared to other titanosaurs, but it is believed to have had a longer tail, which would have helped to balance its large body. Malawisaurus is also characterized by its elongated, spoon-shaped teeth, which it likely used to strip leaves from trees and other vegetation.
The discovery of Malawisaurus is significant because it helps to fill a gap in our understanding of sauropod evolution in Africa during the Early Cretaceous. It is one of the earliest known titanosaurians from the continent, and its fossils provide important clues about the diversity and distribution of these giant dinosaurs during this time period. Additionally, the discovery of a nearly complete skull is rare for sauropods, and it has allowed paleontologists to gain a better understanding of the anatomy and feeding behavior of these massive creatures.