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(Photo credit: The University of Manchester)

MASERU, Lesotho — They found the giant footprints near a dirt road between the villages of Ha Mokhosi and Ha Matobo in Lesotho, a small country encircled entirely by South Africa.

Nearly two feet long, the size and spacing of the three-toed footprints allowed the scientists that discovered them to estimate the proportions of the creature that created them. Their calculations showed the beast responsible for the tracks was about 30 feet long, with its hip at a height several feet above a person’s head.

Dinosaur footprints discovered in Lesotho
Researchers have discovered a new type of dinosaur that roamed the earth 200 million years ago, a monstrous carnivore measuring four times the size of a lion.(Photo credit: The University of Manchester)

The tracks were that of a very large carnivorous dinosaur new to science — a true monster that walked the earth 200 million years ago.

“The latest discovery is very exciting and sheds new light on the kind of carnivore that roamed what is now southern Africa,” says University of Manchester researcher Fabien Knoll in a press release on the find. “…it is the first evidence of an extremely large meat-eating animal roaming a landscape otherwise dominated by a variety of herbivorous, omnivorous and much smaller carnivorous dinosaurs. It really would have been top of the food chain.”

Dubbed Kayentapus ambrokholohali, the newly discovered dinosaur belongs to a group known as “megatheropod,” a classification that includes the infamous Tyrannosaurus rex.

While the research on the tracks is newly published, the discoverers say they are indebted to a professor David Ambrose of the National University of Lesotho, who first introduced them to the potential for such tracks in the area over 15 years ago.

“We hereby acknowledge not only the generous hospitality we received from him and his wife, Dr. Sumitra Talukdar, during our repeated visits, but also their meticulous bibliographic work on the paleontology of southern African and other countless regional topics,” the study authors write.

Including scientists from University of Cape Town and Universidade de São Paulo, the international team that made the find says Kayentapus ambrokholohali is currently the largest known carnivore to ever roam southern Africa.

“In South Africa, Lesotho, Zimbabwe and Namibia, there is good record of theropod footprints from the Late Triassic and Early Jurassic epochs,” Knoll says. “In fact, there are numerous palaeosurfaces where footprints and even tail and body impressions of these, and other animals, can be found. But now we have evidence this region of Africa was also home to a mega-carnivore.”

Palaeosurfaces refer to ancient ground preserved as it was in prehistoric times. The researchers say the palaeosurface Kayentapus ambrokholohali was found on also preserved ripples from water and cracks from when it dried out. This, they write, indicates the tracks were likely made when the giant reptile visited a watering hole or river to drink or catch prey. Indeed, the nearby palaeosurface was also “covered with the tracks of much smaller theropod dinosaurs.”

Silhouette of new, gigantic dinosaur species discovered
This image depicts how the average human would size up to the new dinosaur species discovered in Lesotho. (Image credit: University of Manchester)

A tremendously significant find, Kayentapus ambrokholohali changes ideas about the size of dinosaurs that lived in that part of the world during the early Jurassic epoch. Until its discovery, it was thought that a dinosaur of its type and size didn’t yet exist in that area. Such large predators are usually thought to have emerged millions of years later, around the time of T. rex.

“Globally, these large tracks are very rare,” says Lara Sciscio, a researcher at University of Cape Town. “There is only one other known site similar in age and sized tracks, which is in Poland.”

Details of the discovery were published last week in a paper in the journal PLOS ONE.

About Calum Mckinney

I'm a writer and content creator focused on science and art. I live in Baltimore, Maryland with my cat Maggie.

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73 Comments

  1. TheMo says:

    I am caught in the middle. On the one hand, it is obvious the earth has been around far longer than 6000 years. On the other, it is stupid to mock the beliefs of some basically good people. there is no harm in what the believe. I think creationist shouldn’t try and weigh in on things like this and people that try to mock them when they do are stupid.

    1. earlysda says:

      What is “obvious” about the age of the earth?

      1. TheMo says:

        I am sure you think your question is a stumper. I only hesitate to answer because I have teenagers and know from experience, you will come back with something equally poorly thought out and it will continue endlessly.

  2. letmepicyou says:

    It’s clearly a giant seagull.

  3. larry says:

    I will be logging this one in my sasquatch, ufo, Elvis sightings file

  4. Ross 97338 says:

    wow it could of made a meal out of oprah

  5. Rising says:

    They finally have proof of BIGFOOT!?!?

  6. Rising says:

    Dragon. Totally a dragon.

  7. Peacharoo says:

    “A true monster.. 200 million years ago”

    Yeah, sure.. Like red blood cells, soft tissue, collagen, and blood vessels can last 200 million years in order to allow the Mindless Mud to Man Myth to happen… Lol.

    “Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled Atheist”
    Richard Dawkins

    http://www.evolutionfairytale.com

  8. Jason Roamer says:

    gee thx Obama you p.o.s.

  9. Nightand Fog says:

    Did you see the size of that chicken!!!!????

  10. Conservative_Cowboy says:

    How do they know from looking at foot prints that it was a meat eater?

  11. Alfred_E_NeumanIII says:

    based on the findings i think it looked more like this

  12. Peacharoo says:

    RIP DARWINISM 1851 – 2017

    MY PROPOSAL HERE PUTS THE KNIFE INTO THE HEART OF THE DYING DOG OF DARWIN..
    .
    I have a REASONABLE question that I would like answered if you wish ANYONE to take Evolution seriously..
    .
    Man has 10 INTERDEPENDENT VITAL Organs and support systems. FACT
    .
    Man NEEDS all 10 of his VITAL Organs or he dies. FACT
    .
    Either those 10 VITAL Organs came together ALL AT ONCE (Creation) OR they Evolved separately.. FACT
    .
    If they “Evolved” Separately they must have had an order of Evolution FACT
    .
    For “Evolution” to be even considered to qualify as a hypothetical hypothesis There MUST BE a PLAUSIBLE or FEASABLE Explanation as to the evolutionary order that would be possible. For Example.. What comes First? Man is Irreducibly Complex (BY DEFINITION)
    .
    Stomach? Skin? Heart? Lungs? Brain? Upper Intestine? Liver? Lower Intestine? Pancreas? Kidneys? Remove just ONE and Man Dies.. And Bye Bye Evolution.
    .
    So which one do we start with..? Here, let me help you out.. 1 Skin? 2 Stomach? 3 Brain? 4 Heart? You see… Whatever way you start you cause more problems for the myth.. Because ALL 10 NEED TO BE THERE.. TOGETHER, WORKING IN TANDEM, AT THE SAME TIME
    .
    Atheists like to point out Lungfish or Nematodes that dont have all ten organs as if that helps their case. IT DOES NOT… Lungfish and Nematodes are ALSO IRREDUCIBLY COMPLEX!!! So unless you can show a FEASABLE OR PLAUSIBLE Pathway for them to turn into a Human, they are a NON SEQUITUR…
    .
    THEREFORE
    .
    If UCA for all flora and fauna were to somehow be true, and If we slowly go back in time, Our “Ancestor(s)” would, at some point, have 9 Interdependent vital organs, then 8, then 7, then 6 5 4 3 2…
    .
    THE MATH IS NOT HARD HERE!.
    .
    Allow me to give you a BIG head start.. I will allow you to start out with Abiogenesis (Quite generous don’t you think?) AND a bag of skin…. Now you have 1 billion years to turn it into a Man… What are the next “Steps” in the Evolutionary ladder? Come on.. Just give me something!!! Let us analyze it together using logic and critical thinking…. You guys are starting to make me think this really isn’t about “Science” Anymore, Rather a Religious belief in godless Metaphysical Naturalism,..
    .
    A Microbe has ZERO interdependent interlocked VITAL Organs and their support systems. A Microbiologist has TEN interdependent. interlocked. VITAL Organs and their support systems.
    .
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 THE MATH IS SIMPLE HERE.
    .
    On the billion year journey from Organless Microbes to Organ Dependent (10!) Microbiologists there had to be an ORDER (Unless you believe that ALL TEN “Evolved” at the EXACT SAME MOMENT) AKA Creationism.. STOMACH- SKIN- HEART- LUNGS- BRAIN- UPPER / LOWER INTESTINE LIVER PANCREAS – KIDNEYS
    .
    The inability to answer this simple question is what reduces the Microbes to Microbiologists fairytale to the joke that it is… http://www.evolutionfairytale.com TRY AGAIN?
    .
    THE PROBLEM IS.. All of the Observable Creatures that we see are fully formed, complete, and complex that merely Vary or Adapt…. For example.. there are 5000 “Species” of Ladybugs. 2000 “Species” of Chiclids” 9000 “Species” of Birds, 6000 “Species” of Lizards..Where is the Evolution? Nowhere…(I could go on all day) But here is the catch… By going back into the Nebulousphere of “Long ago and far away” they are trying to use slow minute changes to account for a Microbe turning into a Microbiologist.. What good is a barely or partially formed VITAL organ?? My thesis here puts everything in perspective… As of now.. NO ONE has even TRIED to answer it.. Like to try?