STL Science Center

STL Science Center

14 February 2017

The Literate Dinosaur

Nqwebasaurus is well read and well read about. Not many basal coelurosaurs have been found and of those that have, only one comes from South Africa. Officially an ornithomimosaur, Nqwebasaurus has been discussed in theropod, coelurosaurian, and ornithimimid contexts since its discovery and description in 2000. The paper announcing that discovery is a paper worth reading and the author list is little bit like an all star lineup for paleontology. The paper appeared in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology and is authored by De Klerk, Forster, Sampson, Chinsamy, and Ross (if you are a more casual reader these names are less impressive than if you are familiar with their work, but it is impressive, I promise). There has been extensive examination of the fossils and subsequent discoveries since the initial description such as a description of a second set of remains in 2009 by Forster, et al. that compares these remains with those of the holotype of Nqwebasaurus. They determine that these belong to a second theropod inhabiting the same area, which is equally intriguing despite not representing another individual of Nqwebasaurus. Placing animals outside of Nqwebasaurus is not the only thing that has been done to the genus since its description though. In 2012 Choiniere, et al. re-examined the holotype material and further excavated the matrix of the fossil. They found more material and were able to better describe Nqwebasaurus which included a more complete and more soundly supported phylogenetic assignment to the position we now know for Nqwebasaurus. This paper is so far the most important description or redescription of the animal and its place in the family tree.

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