We report the well preserved skeleton of a small theropod dinosaur, Nqwebasaurus thwazi, gen. et sp. nov., from the Lower Cretaceous Kirkwood Formation of South Africa. Nqwebasaurus has an elongate three-digit manus with a partially opposable first digit, a long and slender pes with a highly reduced metatarsal IV, and preserves gastroliths (stomach stones) in its abdominal region. As a basal coelurosaurian, Nqwebasaurus pushes back the Gondwanan record of this derived group of tetanuran theropods approximately 50 million years. This confirms that coelurosaurians were present on the Gondwana supercontinent well before its main phase of fragmentation and supports the hypothesis that this clade could have achieved a global distribution early in their evolution. Nqwebasaurus is one of the most complete and best preserved Cretaceous theropods described thus far from Africa.
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