First African tetrapods discovered in South Africa


Science and Technology Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, together with South African palaeontologist Dr Rob Gess, on Friday announced the discovery of the first African fossils of Devonian tetrapods, or four-legged vertebrates.

The two new species, named Tutusius umlambo, after Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, and Umzantsia amazana, are Africa’s earliest known four-legged vertebrates at 360-million years old, 120-million years older than the first dinosaur discoveries in the region.

“Whereas all previously found Devonian tetrapods came from localities which were in tropical regions, these specific specimens lived within the Antarctic circle,” Gess said at the launch.

The 1-m-long Tutusius, and the somewhat smaller Umzantsia are both incomplete fossils.

Tutusius is represented by a…

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