Early Dinosaur Relative Identified

Researchers have just identified the oldest-known ancestor of the dinosaur, and what they have discovered is changing scientists’ view of the evolution of the ancient reptiles.

Bones from what is now termed the Teleocrater rhadinus were first discovered in Tanzania several decades ago, but there were not enough remains to put together an identifiable skeleton. A more recent find near the same area in 2015 led to the discovery of more fossilized bones, which have allowed paleontologists to form a more accurate picture of the dinosaur ancestor’s size and shape. Their findings have been surprising.

bi.gazeta.pl
bi.gazeta.pl

It had always been assumed that predator dinosaurs and their ancestors walked on two legs, but the Teleocrater, also a carnivorous predator, walked on all fours like a crocodile. It also had ankles similar to a crocodile’s, unlike the bird-like ankles found in later dinosaurs. It would have borne similarities to the modern Komodo dragon in appearance, while also having some crocodilian and dino-like features.

Scientists were also surprised by the reptile’s size. Many paleontologists have long believed that the earliest dinosaur ancestors would have been small, perhaps the size of a chicken. The Teleocrater, though, was surprisingly large. It would have measured between seven to ten feet in length, which is smaller than many full-grown crocodiles, but much larger than expected.

In addition to its crocodilian features, the Teleocrater boasted several dinosaur characteristics. Among these were depressions for jaw muscle attachments on the roof of the skull and typical hip muscle attachments on the thigh bones.

The reptile, which lived roughly 245 million years ago, during the Triassic Period, and about 10 million years before the first appearance of dinosaurs. The Teleocrater is more of a cousin to the dinosaur than a direct ancestor, and its descendants would become such diverse species as birds and crocodiles, as well as the myriad species of dinosaurs.

The findings have led scientists to draw some important conclusions. First, they now believe that dinosaur features accumulated slowly over thousands of years, instead of evolving in a short span of time, as was previously believed. In addition, ancestors to the Teleocrater had already been found in such far-flung locations as India, Brazil, and Russia, meaning that these early dinosaur relatives were spread all over the globe.

Researchers are hopeful that this discovery, and others like it, will lead to a much greater understanding of the origins of dinosaurs, birds, and modern reptiles.

Next Article
ADVERTISEMENT
  • The Plastic-Eating Caterpillar That Could Help Save the Planet

    assets2.bigthink.com

    An amateur Spanish beekeeper recently made a discovery that could have a major impact in our planet’s fight against pollution and global warming. While tending to her beehives, she removed some wax worms from them, since they are pests that are parasitic towards bee colonies. To get rid of them, she put them in an...

    Read More
  • The Cottingley Fairies

    i.kinja-img.com

    In the village of Cottingley, England, in the closing days of World War I, a nine-year-old girl got into trouble for playing in a stream and getting her clothes dirty. Her response, and that of her older cousin and accomplice, would be one of the most long-lasting hoaxes ever perpetrated on the world. Young Frances...

    Read More
  • Ancient “Hobbit” Species’ Origins Discovered

    thestar.com

    The hominid species Homo floresiensis were a small race of human-like creatures that lived on some Indonesian islands beginning at least 100,000 years ago. Because of their small stature- they were only about three feet tall and weighed around 50 pounds- they have been dubbed “hobbits,” after the small, hairy people in The Lord of...

    Read More
  • The Mysterious Life and Death of Kaspar Hauser

    4.bp.blogspot.com

    On May 26, 1828, an unknown teenage boy appeared on the streets of Nuremberg, Germany. Georg Weickmann, a local shoemaker, was the first to register the boy’s strange appearance, as he was dressed in shabby clothing and was tottering around as though he was drunk. When Weickmann approached the teenager, he was handed a letter...

    Read More
  • The Mysterious Death of Meriwether Lewis

    tnvacation.com

    Most people in the United States have heard of Meriwether Lewis, one half of the famed Lewis and Clark Expedition that claimed the Pacific Northwest for the U.S. and explored the newly purchased Louisiana Territory. Lewis was an extraordinary person by most accounts. During his life, he was a successful soldier and presidential aide. He...

    Read More
SHARE
Previous articleDangerous and Disgusting Georgian Beauty Practices
Next articleThe Pigeon Hero of World War I