ZIMBABWE – Fancy a dinosaur safari in Zimbabwe? The recent drop of water levels in Lake Kariba may not be good for power generation but might allow for the discovery of more fossils, according to the owner of a safari camp.
Steve Edwards of Musango Safari Camp has found six dinosaur fossil bed sites on the shores of Kariba dam in recent years.
Almost all of his finds are from the Triassic period, dating back 150 to 250 million years. They consist of “bits of limb bones, ribs, jaws, teeth” and other unidentified fossil bones, he said in an interview with News24.
The finds have been analysed by palaeontologists from the Natural History Museum in London. One of them could even be “new to science”, though that is yet to be confirmed, Edwards has been told.
“They have advised me to keep looking for a complete skull and/or a hip joint. Hip joints are important in classification of various dinosaur types,” Edwards said.
He has good reason to hope. In 1969, a large dinosaur was discovered near Musango. This dinosaur was named Vulcanodon karibiensis. It was, Edwards says, 3m tall, 10m long and weighed at least six tons.
It’s a silver lining to an otherwise worrying situation created by the recent drop in water levels on Lake Kariba.
The low levels are threatening power generation in Zimbabwe. Figures from the Zambezi River Authority show that the water level recorded on September 20 this year was 479.53m. That is 5.35m lower than the level recorded last year on the same date, the authority says.
But the newly-revealed stretches of bank might allow for the discovery of more fossils, according to Edwards.
He told News24: “I am very excited about the newly-exposed lake shore, with the recent drastic lake level dropping. [I] am convinced we shall be finding a host of other fossils.”
Zimbabwe’s dinosaur fossil discoveries are not something many foreign tourists are aware of.
There are other sites in the Zambezi Valley where fossils have been found. In the Chewore South Safari Area, east of Mana Pools, some three-toed fossil prints are reported to be visible in what is now a river bed.
Experts say these were likely made by a type of carnivorous “theropod” dinosaur called Allosaurus, possibly the ancestors of Tyrannosaurus Rex.
There is also a dinosaur fossil bed site about an hour from Beitbridge, Zimbabwe’s border with South Africa.
Edwards said: “I feel that there could and should be a lot more interest shown from both local and international palaeontologists as well as interested visitors to Zimbabwe.