Oldest known dinosaur relative found





Until now, paleontologists have generally believed that the closest relatives of dinosaurs possibly looked a little smaller in size, walked on two legs and were carnivorous. However, a research team including Randall Irmis, curator of paleontology at the Utah Museum of Natural History and assistant professor in the Department of Geology and Geophysics at the University of Utah has made a recent discovery to dispel this hypothesis.

The team announced the discovery of a proto-dinosaur (dinosaur-like animal) - a new species called Asilisaurus kongwe (a-SEE-lee-SOAR-us KONG-way), derived from asili (Swahili for ancestor or foundation), sauros (Greek for lizard), and kongwe (Swahili for ancient). The first bones of Asilisaurus were discovered in 2007, and it is the first proto-dinosaur recovered from the Triassic Period in Africa. Asilisaurus shares many characteristics with dinosaurs but falls just outside of the dinosaur family tree-living approximately 10 million years earlier than the oldest known dinosaurs.

The description of the new species Asilisaurus kongwe appears in the March 4 issue of the journal Nature in a paper co-authored by an international team, including Irmis, Sterling Nesbitt, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Texas at Austin's Jackson School of Geosciences, Christian A. Sidor (Burke Museum and University of Washington), Kenneth D. Angielczyk (The Field Museum, Chicago), Roger M.H. Smith (Iziko South African Museum, South Africa), and Linda A. Tsuji (Museum für Naturkunde and Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Germany)....



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