Professor Roger Smith, research geologist and palaeontologist, Department of Geosciences, University of the Witwatersrand

British-led expeditions to the East African Ruhuhu and Luangwa valleys in the 1930s and 1960s recognised several fossiliferous areas containing Permian and Triassic tetrapods. International researchers working on the TANZAM project, initiated in 2007, have since conducted ten expeditions to Tanzania and Zambia to make the first systematic and fully documented palaeontological collections in over forty years. Their fieldwork has yielded many well preserved fossilised skeletons of animals that inhabited these valleys between 260 and 235 million years ago. This includes true reptiles, the forerunners of mammals and precursors of dinosaurs. Among the finds are several species that are known from elsewhere in Africa and the southern continents, evidence that at certain times breeding populations lived in all the rift valleys of western Gondwana, from South America all the way through to India. This course will discuss the fossils found in these areas and their significance.


Recommended reading 

Nesbitt,S.J.,  Butler, R.B., Ezcurra, M.D., Barrett, P.M., Stocker, M.R., Angielczyk, K.D., Smith, R.M.H.,  Sidor, C.A., Niedźwiedzki, G.,  Sennikov, A., Charig A. J.,  (2017) The earliest bird-line archosaurs and assembly of the dinosaur bodyplan

Attridge, J., H. W. Ball, A. J. Charig, and C. B. Cox. 1964. The British Museum (Natural History) – University of London joint palaeontological expedition to Northern Rhodesia and Tanganyika, 1963. Nature 201:445–449.

Smith R. M. H., Sidor, C. A., Angielczyk, K.D., Nesbitt, S.J., Tabor, N.J., 2017  Taphonomy and paleoenvironments of Middle Triassic bone accumulations in the Lifua Member of the Manda Beds, Songea Group, (Ruhuhu Basin) Tanzania. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 37:sup1, 65-79.



Date: Saturday 11 January 
Time: 10.00 am–12.00 pm
COURSE FEES: Full R236 Staff & Students R118
Venue: LT2 Kramer Law Building UCT