Nqwebasaurus (Nqweba lizard)
Nqwebasaurus (Nqweba lizard)
Named By : W. J. de Klerk, C. A. Forster, S. D. Sampson & C. F. Ross - 2000
Diet : Carnivore / Possibly Omnivore
Size : Estimated 1 meters long
Type of Dinosaur : Small Theropod
Type Species : N. thwazi (type)
Found in : South Africa - Kirkwood Formation
When it Lived : Mid Jurassic, 159-132 million years ago
Nqwebasaurus (IPA pronunciation: [!weba’sor@s] or /ING.kweb@’so.r@s/), is a basal coelurosaur. It is the most basal member of the coelurosaurian Clade Ornithomimosauria, which dates back to the Early Cretaceous in South Africa. Nqwebasaurus derives its name from Nqweba, an Xhosa word meaning “Nqweba”, which is the name of the Kirkwood district. “Thwazi”, ancient Xhosa for “fast runner”, is also the name. It is currently the only coelurosaur named in Africa. This proves that Gondwana was inhabited 50 million years before previously believed. William J. de Klerk, who is associated with the Albany Museum in Grahamstown, discovered the type specimen of Nqwebasaurus. It is the only fossil of this species to be found and was discovered in the Kirkwood Formation, Uitenhage Group. Nqwebasaurus is known as Kirky, because it was found in Kirkwood.
Nqwebasaurus, first discovered by William J. de Klerk, and Callum Ross, in July 1996, during a joint expedition led by the Albany Museum, Grahamstown, and Stony Brook, New York, United States. Callum Ross was also affiliated at that time. This fossil is remarkable and considered to be an exceptional find, as there were no coelurosaur bones previously found in Africa. Since then, no new Nqwebasaurus fossils were discovered.
Nqwebasaurus was a small- to medium-sized ornithomimosaur. The 30 cm (1 ft.) tall type specimen measures 90 cm (3 ft.) in length. However, the incomplete caudal vertebrae make it difficult to determine its exact length. The type specimen is believed to be a juvenile. However, it is not possible to match the fossil with any other member of the species because the type specimen is the only one that represents its species.
Nqwebasaurus is a three-fingered dinosaur with a long, three-fingered hands. It has a partially opposable thumb and a recurved claw. Its claws differ in their shape. The claws of its first and second fingers are recurved, while the third claw is not. This is a rare trait in theropod dinosaurs. However, it has been observed in Struthiomimus and other ornithomimosaurs. Nqwebasaurus has no serrations on its maxillary tooth, has a reduced number of dentition and contains gastroliths within its abdominal cavity. This is a rare trait in carnivorous dinosaurs, as gastroliths are more common in herbivorous vertebrates than modern ostriches. These morphological characteristics indicate that Nqwebasaurus was a herbivore.
It is believed that Nqwebasaurus, especially basal theropods, was at least partially feathered, or had a feather-coated thermoregulation system because of the fact that more species on the evolutionary line to birds had feathers.