Great discoveries in Malawi

A feature on dinosaur discoveries in Malawi, where SMU alumna Elizabeth Gomani Chindebvu is Director of Culture in Malawi’s Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Culture.

By Charles Mkula

LILONGWE — The palaeontological work on dinosaurs being carried out by the Antiquities Division in Malawi’s Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Culture has collected fossils of at least three species of dinosaurs, three species of crocodiles, turtles, some frogs and fish scales.

The work is being undertaken in collaboration with researchers from Southern Methodist University of Dallas in the United States under the Malawi Dinosaur Project.

It started in 1984 and has unearthed fossils of dinosaurs in the northern region Karonga District estimated to be from the Cretaceous period between 97 million and 145 million years ago.

The fossils include the Malawisaurus and Karongasaurus.

Malawisaurus, whose skeleton was mounted in Karonga Museum, constitutes the majority of the fossils collected so far.

It has been said the the Malawisaurus “was a genus of sauropod dinosaur (specifically a titanosaurid) that lived in what is now Africa, specifically Malawi, during the Aptian age of the Early

Cretaceous Period. It is one of the few titanosaurs for which skull material has been found”.

Director of Culture in Malawi’s Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Culture, Elizabeth Gomani Chindebvu, says relatives of Malawi’s dinosaurs were found in Tanzania, Niger, Madagascar and South America.

“This is because Africa and South America were once one supercontinent referred to as Gondwanaland or Pangaea,” she notes. The southern part of Pangaea comprised Africa, Australia, South America and Antarctica.

“These continents are now far apart because the continents are constantly shifting due to the movement of the tectonic plates within the earth, which is loosely referred to as the Continental Drift,” she says.



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