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JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - A huge dinosaur discovered in South Africa is a previously unknown species that sheds light on the evolution of the largest creatures ever to walk the earth, a scientist said on Wednesday.
Adam Yates, a palaeontologist at Johannesburg's Wits University, said the seven-metre-long Aardonyx Celestae occupied a "very significant position in the family tree of dinosaurs."
"This new dinosaur is helping us complete and revise our picture of how the truly giant dinosaurs first got going," he told reporters on Wednesday.
Yates said the almost complete fossil remains of the vegetarian giant that existed in the Jurassic period 195 million years ago were discovered in the town of Senekal in South Africa's Free State province by a student five years ago. However, they have just classified as a separate species.
"Aardonyx probably walked on its hind legs but could drop to all fours as well. It had flattened feet with large claws that supported its body weight on the inside of the foot and a robust thigh for supporting weight," he said.
(Reporting by Alison Raymond; editing by Andrew Dobbie)