200-million-year-old huge carnivorous dinosaur found in Africa

London: An international team of scientists has discovered footprints of a huge carnivorous dinosaur that roamed southern Africa 200 million years ago.

The researchers found several three-toed footprints measuring 57cm long and 50cm wide.

This means the newly discovered dinosaur, named Kayentapus ambrokholohali, would have an estimated body length of around nine metres, or 30 feet, and be a little less than three metres tall at the hip.

That is four times the size of a lion, which is currently the largest carnivore in southern Africa.

“The latest discovery is very exciting and sheds new light on the kind of carnivore that roamed what is now southern Africa,” said Fabien Knoll, Senior Research Fellow at the University of Manchester in Britain.

“That’s because 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,” Knoll added.

Kayentapus ambrokholohali belongs to a group of dinosaurs called “megatheropod”, according to the study published in the journal PLOS ONE.

The term “Megatheropods” describes the giant two-legged carnivorous dinosaurs, such as the iconic Tyrannosaurus rex (T. rex) which fossil evidence shows was around 12 metres long.

This study also revealed that these footprints make up the largest theropod tracks in Africa.

The tracks were found on an ancient land surface, known as a palaeosurface, in the Maseru District of Lesotho, a small country in southern Africa.