The age of the Tashinga Formation (Karoo Supergroup) in the mid-Zambezi basin, Zimbabwe and the first Phytosaur from mainland sub-Saharan Africa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • Paul M. Barrett
  • Lara Sciscio
  • Pia A. Viglietti
  • Timothy J. Broderick
  • Celina A. Suarez
  • And 8 others
  • Glenn R. Sharman
  • Andrew S. Jones
  • Darlington Munyikwa
  • Steve F. Edwards
  • Kimberley E.j. Chapelle
  • Kathleen N. Dollman
  • Michel Zondo
  • Jonah N. Choiniere

Colleges, School and Institutes


Correlations between continental sequences within the Karoo-aged basins of southern and eastern Africa are difficult due to the dearth of shared index fossils and a lack of radioisotopic dates for key formations. Here we describe four sites along the southeastern shoreline of Lake Kariba, Zimbabwe, within the Mid-Zambezi Basin, that yield material of phytosaurs (Archosauromorpha: Phytosauria) from within the informal Tashinga Formation (Upper Karoo Group). These phytosaur remains are the first to be recovered from sub-Saharan mainland Africa, representing a major geographic range extension for this group into high southern latitudes. Furthermore, an LA-ICPMS maximum depositional age of 209.2 ± 4.5 Ma (late Norian/early Rhaetian) derived from detrital zircons provides the first absolute age estimate for any of these sites. The phytosaurs are associated with lungfish and metoposaurid amphibians, forming part of a terrestrial-aquatic dominated biota, a previously undocumented biome from the Late Triassic of southern Africa.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)445-460
Number of pages16
JournalGondwana Research
Early online date16 Jan 2020
Publication statusPublished - May 2020


  • Phytosauria, Gondwana, Zimbabwe, Karoo, Late Triassic