Witsies uncover new dinosaur species in South Africa

RAIN LIZARD: Discovered by Wits PhD students, this is artist’s impression of what the newly described Pulanesaura dinosaur would have looked like. Photo: Provided.

RAIN LIZARD: Discovered by Wits PhD students, this is artist’s impression of what the newly described Pulanesaura dinosaur would have looked like. Photo: Provided.

A NEW species of dinosaur, the Rain Lizard, discovered in the Free State by a Wits team has revealed an exciting new picture of dinosaur development in South Africa.

Wits PhD student Blair McPhee, described it as a new species after he and Dr Jonah Choiniere, from the Evolutionary Studies Institute at Wits University, worked with a team unravelling the mysteries of the ancient creature.

“We used to think that only two species of dinosaur were present in South Africa. Now we know that the picture was much more complicated, with lots of species present. But the Rain Lizard is still special because it was doing something that all these newly discovered species weren’t,” McPhee said.

The discovery of the new dinosaur, Pulanesaura eocollum, meaning “Rain lizard”, shows the first evidence of dinosaurs making the transition to walking on four legs and browsing on the ground.

Pulanesaura was an early member of the long-necked sauropod lineage of dinosaurs, famously represented by Brontosaurus and has been described as small at about eight metres in length and 5 tonnes in body mass.

“This dinosaur showcases the unexpected diversity of locomotion and feeding strategies present in South Africa 200 million years ago. This has serious implications for how dinosaurs were carving up their ecosystems,” said McPhee.

Why is it called the “Rain lizard”? For one thing, it was pouring while they were excavating the skeleton. “Pulane” was also the childhood nickname of Panie Bremer, daughter of the owner of the farm where the dinosaur’s remains were found. And what does Pulane mean? It is Sesotho for “comes with rain”.

#BuildaPresident campaign comes to Wits

The #BuildaPresident campaign, inspired by former president Nelson Mandela, will kick off at Wits University this Tuesday, July 21. As part of Mandela day, event hosted by Drama for Life, will appeal to staff and students to make a pledge to good citizenship. Event activities a display a 3 000 citizen-driven image collage reflecting what the ideal South African president should be.

The #BuildaPresident campaign, inspired by former president Nelson Mandela, will kick off at Wits University on Tuesday, July 21. The Drama for Life department will host the event and plans to get the staff and Witsies to pledge to good citizenship.

Anzio Jacobs, event coordinator and Drama for Life student, said the pledge was created to honour the legacy of Mandela. Jacobs said he hopes the event will “draw attention to pertinent issues we face as a country”.

#BuildaPresident: 3 000 images, like this one, will cover the wall behind the Wits Art Museum facing Jorissen Street as part of the ongoing campaign aimed at fostering quality future leaders of South Africa. Photo: Evans Mathibe.

#BuildaPresident: 3 000 images, like this one, will cover the wall behind the Wits Art Museum facing Jorissen Street as part of the ongoing campaign aimed at fostering quality future leaders of South Africa. Photo: Evans Mathibe.

Part of the activities will include rebranding the wall at the university entrance on Jorrisson Street behind the Wits Art Museum (WAM). The rebrand will involve a collage of 3 000 images shared by people and showcasing their views on what an ideal South African president should be.

“We will rig a stage for keynote addresses from various stake-holders,” Jacobs said. “These addresses are intended to voice the university’s pledge to being a good citizen.”

Jacobs added that everyone in attendance will be asked to “record their pledge in order to show the overwhelming commitment of Wits University to a better South Africa.”

The event, which will begin at 13:15, will be hosted in collaboration with Wits Functions and Events, campus radio station VoWFM and the SRC (Student Representative Council).

“We trust that this will be the beginning of a great narrative of Wits doing its part in building a better nation for all,” Jacobs said.

For more information on the event visit the campaign website  or their Facebook page.

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Blind student opens up about attack on a Wits bus

Wits student Sisanda Msekele, who was attacked on a Wits circuit bus and hospitalised since last Friday night was discharged yesterday morning. She chatted briefly to Wits Vuvuzela about her ordeal. Wits University’s Campus Control Director, Robert Kemp, said the SAPS and Campus Control Investigations Section are investigating the matter. 

Wits Master’s graduate Sisanda Msekele, who was attacked and hospitalised last Friday night, was discharged yesterday morning after recovering from the severe injuries she sustained in the attack.

STRONGER: Sisanda Msekele and her guide dog Romy on the steps of Great Hall after her graduation at Wits University yesterday. Photo: Samantha Camara.

STRONGER: Sisanda Msekele and her guide dog Romy on the steps of Great Hall after her graduation at Wits University yesterday. Photo: Samantha Camara.

Msekele, who was discharged from Milpark hospital in Parktown yesterday morning, said she sustained a “severe bite on her upper lip”, had marks on her legs and bite marks on her hand and nipple.

“The girl who attacked me tried to go for my nipple,” Msekele said. “She was going for my nipple,” she reiterated.

Msekele, who is usually accompanied by her protective guide dog, Romy, said she was with a friend when the incident occurred and had left her dog at home. Msekele has declined to reveal the identity of her friend.

Robert Kemp, director of Wits Campus Control said that the incident was reported around 21h30 on Friday night.

“It is believed that the suspect is also a student,” Kemp added.

Kemp said Wits Campus Control officers went to Milpark Hospital, to gather details of the incident from Msekele on Friday night.

“The matter is currently being investigated by the SAPS [at Hillbrow police station] and Campus Control Investigations Section,” Kemp said.

Msekele told Wits Vuvuzela that “the experience has been very overwhelming” and that she needs some time before she can talk about it more openly.