Geologists from Witwatersrand, Birmingham and Oxford universities have confirmed a massive discovery of different species of dinosaur fossils in Qhemerha village outside the small town of Sterkspruit, in the Eastern Cape.
This has attracted international scholars and researchers who want to experience what they termed the dinosaur bone bed. A team of experts has spent more than a week tracing dinosaur fossils.
A number of different dinosaur species remains have been discovered.
Many villagers and academics believe this discovery will put the Eastern Cape and South Africa on the world map.
Oxford University Professor, Roger Benson, detailing the discovery of extinct dinosaurs in Qhemerha village in Sterkspruit says, “200 million years ago when these animals lived, this rock was mud and the animal, lay down in the mud and then it was buried by more mud.
This is why most of the bones are articulated together. And then later on, more mud would come and the dinosaur was buried deeper in the ground, and that is when the bones and the mud started to turn into rock and the result of that, we have a fossil dinosaur skeleton and turned into hard rock.”
Its not often that entire skeletons are found and normally partial remains are discovered, making the Qhemerha bone bed unique and of world importance.
Jonah Choiniere, a paleontologist from Wits University says the discovery of dinosaur fossils in one place is the first of its kind in the world.
“In a bone bed, we mean, essentially, a dinosaur graveyard – a place where lots of animals died together and were preserved and this is very uncommon in South Africa.”
Paleontology Master’s student from Wits University, Cebisa Mdekeza says the discovery of dinosaur fossils in this part of the world is interesting for scholars and geologists.
“This discovery means a lot to anyone who is interested in dinosaurs because it is very rare. In fact, for most of us, it’s our first time to find a specimen this articulated.
Usually you will find one piece of leg, a bone or a hand bone but here, you have most of the skeleton. So, it is very important.”
Siginyane Rhalane, a villager that who been leading the geologists and scientists around the stretch of dinosaur bone bed in the area, believes that the South African government and UNESCO should consider declaring the Dinosaur Fossil bed a heritage site.
“Our intention is to ask UNESCO to declare this place a heritage site where we have a park, and we also have a miniature dinosaur museum so that it can attract tourists to Qhemerha.”