A park owner
Weight: 2 tons
Found In: South Africa
This time we can say that it is a dinosaur about which information is very scarce. Even given the little fossil evidence some researchers were confused about clarifying it.
This time we will talk about the Aliwalia. Read on to learn more about it.
What does the name Aliwalia mean?
Like most dinosaurs, Aliwalia takes its name from its place of discovery: the Aliwal Park Reserve in South Africa.
However, it is also known as Eucnemesaurus, where “Eu” means “good”, “Cnem” means “lower leg” and Sauros “lizard”, referring to the robust constitution of the tibia.
History of the Aliwalia
In order to understand the history of this dinosaur, we must explain that some remains were originally found and described as Eucnemesaurus.
Later on, other remains were found which were wrongly classified into another group and also called Aliwalia.
The material described as Eucnemesaurus consists of fragments of dorsal vertebrae, four tail vertebrae, fragments of the pubic bone, the upper end of the femur and a tibia.
This find was discovered on the grounds of a farm near Slabbers in the South African province of Bavaria. These fossils were originally described in 1920 by Van Hoepen.
The material concerning Aliwalia rex meanwhile comprises the ends of a left femur.
This finding was made in North Aliwal, in the Eastern Cape Province. It was described in 1985 by Peter Malcolm Galton and classified as a Herrerasauridae.
For a long time this dinosaur was classified as a Herrerasauridae.
Later in 2007 it would be the paleontologist Adam Yates, who would catalogue it as a different family related to the Eucnemesaurus.
Once it was confirmed that it was the same dinosaur.
Yates demonstrated that it was a basal sauropodomorpha of the relatives of the sauropods.
A cladistic analysis by Adam Yates concluded that Eucnemesaurus was closely related to Riojasaurus. To combine both genera, Yates establishes a new group, the Riojasaurus.
Riojasaurus was more closely related to sauropods than to plateosaurus, but more basal than Massospondylus.
Like the related Riojasaurus, the Eucnemesaurus was a large and robust Sauropodomorpha.
According to Yates, the genus can be distinguished from other genera by a characteristic in the back vertebrae and by two features of the morphology of the trochanter, a section of the upper femur.
Since Eucnemesaurus is the first name described, Eucnemesaurus would be valid and Aliwalia being more recent would be considered as a synonym.
The only species is Eucnemesaurus fortis.
The size of the femur led many paleontologists to believe that the Aliwalia was a carnivorous dinosaur of remarkable size for the age in which it lived.
It would even have been comparable to that of the great Jurassic and Cretaceous Theropods, such as the Allosaurus, which evolved tens of millions of years after the Aliwalia.
The original material was believed to have a strong similarity to the South American Herrerasaurus, so much so that Aliwalia was originally classified as Herrerasaurus by Peter Galton.
However, subsequent re-evaluation of the material has shown that the jawbone assigned to the Aliwalia does not belong, as it is clearly from a carnivore.
In addition, the new material clearly demonstrated the affinity of Sauropodomorpha to the latter genus.