The Dino Park in Golden Gate is an ambitious project initiated by Sanparks to show off the 190 million year old dinosaur nesting sight which belonged to an early pro-sauropod dinosaur of the early Jurassic called Massospondylus.

The design as proposed by Mashabane Rose architects and urban designers. The building is designed to have a minimal impact on the landscape of Golden Gate.

 It will be built on the already disturbed area next to the camping site. The area is filled with fossils of large dinosaurs in the sandstone rock.

The Free State proved to be fossil hunters’ paradise!  Just an hour’s drive from the Rosendal farm, Jonah Choiniere and his team from Johannesburg’s Witwatersrand University has already unearthed fossils belonging to a newly discovered type of dinosaur that roamed the earth 200 million years ago.

Oldest Dinosaur Nesting Site Unearthed

A clutch of dinosaur eggs were discovered in Rooidraai, named after the colour of the rock in the area, in 1976 by the former director of the BPI, Professor James Kitching.

The nests belonged to Massospondylus, a six-metre (20ft) ancestor of long-necked “sauropod” dinosaurs that lived 190m years ago. The newly discovered nesting ground is 100m years older than any found before.

Reconstruction of a Massospondylus nesting site. Courtesy J. Csotonyi

“The eggs, embryos, and nests come from the rocks of a nearly vertical road cut only 25 metres long,” said Prof. Robert Reisz of the the University of Toronto at Mississauga, who led further studies into the discovery. Scientists uncovered clutches of fossilised eggs, many containing embryos. They also found footprints of hatchlings showing that young dinosaurs stayed in the nest long enough to double in size.

“Even though the fossil record of dinosaurs is extensive, we actually have very little fossil information about their reproductive biology, particularly for early dinosaurs,” said Dr David Evans, curator of vertebrate palaeontology at the Royal Ontario Museum in Canada. This amazing series of 190m-year-old nests gives us the first detailed look at dinosaur reproduction early in their evolutionary history, and documents the antiquity of nesting strategies that are only known much later in the dinosaur record.”

The scientists believe many more nests at the site, now buried in rock, remain to be discovered. “Even so, we found ten nests, suggesting that there are a lot more nests in the cliff, still covered by tons of rock. We predict that many more nests will be eroded out in time, as natural weathering processes continue,” Reisz said.

The study was co-authored by Doctors Hans-Dieter Sues (Smithsonian Institute, USA), Eric Roberts (James Cook University, Australia), and Adam Yates (Bernard Price Institute (BPI) for Palaeontological Research at Wits).

It was published in the proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and the full study can be read on Wits’ website.

 

At least 10 nests were uncovered and each contained up to 34 round eggs in tightly clustered clutches. Their distribution indicates that dinosaurs returned repeatedly to the same spot to lay their eggs.

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