Team Aardonyx

(in Order of Publication)

Dr. Adam Yates with Postorbital bone.

Adam M. Yates, Ph.D., formerly of Bernard Price Institute for Palaeontological Research, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg 2050, South Africa*

Dr. Yates is a paleontologist and an expert on dinosaur systematics (the relationships of dinosaurs to one another and to modern animals).  He specializes in the radiation and evolution of the “prosauropods” and sauropod ancestors.

“When we first started to dig at the Aardonyx site I fully expected it to be a jumble of Massospondylus (a common “prosauropod”) bones. Other palaeontologists have already found a lot of good Massospondylus skeletons so I was reluctant to start excavating the site. However after the first few bones were uncovered it became clear that my initial assessment was wrong…..fantastically, wonderfully wrong.”

*current address for Dr. Yates: Museum of Central Australia, Alice Springs

Dr. Bonnan with Metacarpal.

Matthew F. Bonnan, Ph.D., Biology Program, The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, Galloway, NJ

Dr. Bonnan is a vertebrate paleobiologist and a functional morphologist, studying how the bone and muscle systems work in living animals and looking for clues in the skeletons of fossil ones.  He is an expert on sauropod dinosaurs and is interested in why dinosaurs generally became so gigantic.

“We already knew that the earliest sauropods and near-sauropods would be bipeds.  What Aardonyx shows us, however, is that walking quadrupedally and bearing weight on the inside of the foot is a trend that started very early in these dinosaurs, much earlier than previously hypothesized.”

Dr.  Johann Neveling.

Johann Neveling, Ph.D., Council for Geoscience, Pretoria 0001, South Africa

Dr. Neveling is a geologist who specializes in sedimentology and stratigraphy (the charting and sequence determination of rock layers) and is an expert on the geological history of South Africa.

“The geological data suggests that Aardonyx lived in a micro-environment supported by small, perennial rivers. Like the Okovango-delta in Botswana of today, this stable water source, and ecosystem it would have supported, acted as a refuge from the vast dessert that extended across the Karoo Basin at the time.”

“The geological data suggests that Aardonyx lived in a micro-environment supported by small, perennial rivers. Like the Okovango-delta in Botswana of today, this stable water source, and ecosystem it would have supported, acted as a refuge from the vast dessert that extended across the Karoo Basin at the time.”

Dr.  Anusuya Chinsamy-Turan.

Anusuya Chinsamy, Ph.D., Zoology Department, University of Cape Town, Private Bag X3, Rhodes Gift 7700, South Africa

Dr. Chinsamy is a paleontologist who specializes in histology (examining thin-sections of bone in living and fossil vertebrates for clues to their growth).  She has examined and reported on the histology of numerous dinosaur species, and has published two books on dinosaurs (The Microstructure of Dinosaur Bone and Famous Dinosaurs of South Africa).

“My analysis of the bone microstructure in the ribs and shoulder blades of Aardonyx suggests that while it had experienced at least 7 spurts or cycles of growth , it was not a fully grown animal.”

“It is quite amazing that after 195 millions of years of burial and fossilization, the microstructure of the Aardonyx bones still retains clues about various aspects of its biology. Thus by studying the thin sections of Aardonyx bones, I was able to determine that it is still a young individual i.e. it was not yet an adult.”

Marc Blackbeard with postorbital bone.

Marc Blackbeard

Marc Blackbeard was a Masters student at the University of the Witwatersrand.  Marc, after whom Marc’s Quarry is named, discovered the first bones of Aardonyx and helped to excavate and map the site.

Bernard Price Institute for Palaeontological Research, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg 2050, South Africa

Celeste Yates,  Fossil Preparator.

Celeste Yates, Fossil Preparator, formerly of the Institute for Human Evolution at the University of the Witwatersrand*

Celeste Yates is a fossil preparator (someone who cleans, fixes, and assembles the bones) for the Institute for Human Evolution at the University of the Witwatersrand. Her tireless efforts on the Aardonyx material revealed subtle anatomical clues that would have otherwise been covered by mud and rock. She is the namesake for this dinosaur species.

*Currently Celeste works with Adam Yates at the Museum of Central Australia, Alice Springs

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