Dinosaurs: are they 10 million years older?
2010-03-08 0:00

By Agence France-Presse | CosmosMagazine.com

Scientists have uncovered the bones of a dinosaur-like creature that roamed Earth at least 10 million years earlier than the oldest known dinosaur, according to a recent study.

Discovered in Tanzania, Asilisaurus kongwe would have been waist-high to a human, ate plants, and lived some 240 million years ago, said the study, published in Nature.

The discovery means that dinosaurs probably appeared much earlier than previously thought, the researchers said.


An illustration of Asilisaurus kongwe.
Credit: Marlene Donnelly/Field Museum

Dinos just one of many large animal groups

It also points to a rich variety of fauna during the crucial period before dinosaurs began their 165-million domination of the planet.

"This new evidence suggests they were really only one of several large and distinct groups of animals that exploded in diversity in the Triassic, including silesaurs, pterosaurs [flying reptiles] and several groups of crocodilian relatives," said Sterling Nesbitt, a researcher at the University of Texas in Austin.

The newly found creature is a silesaur, which Nesbitt described as a "sister" taxon to the one that gave rise to dinosaurs.

Sister taxon in Tanzania

Their evolutionary relationship would be roughly analogous to that between humans and chimps, whose genomes overlap by 99%, he said.

Silesaurs and dinosaurs lived side-by-side throughout much of the Triassic Period, between 250 and 200 million years ago.

Fossil bones from at least 14 Asilisaurus specimens were recovered from a site in southern Tanzania. Scientists were able to reconstruct a nearly complete skeleton, with only small portions of the head and hand missing.

The animal stood half-a-meter to a meter (1.5 to 2.0 feet) tall at the hips, and were one-to-three meters (three-to-five feet) long.

Abundant life in Triassic

They weighed between 10 and 30kg, and walked on all four legs. The shape of the teeth and a beak-like lower jaw suggest that the animals could eat meat or plants. Scientists speculated that the animals were originally carnivores but evolved into omnivores to enhance their chances of survival.

While they did not persist as long as dinosaurs, silesaurs had a good run, lasting some 45 million years.

The first specimen from the silesaur group was discovered only in 2003, but since then eight other specimens have been dug up from Triassic rock around the globe. "This goes to show that there are whole groups of animals out there that weve never even found evidence of that were very abundant during the Triassic," Nesbitt said.

The names Asilisaurus kongwe comes from "asili," which means "founder" in Swahili, "sauros, the Greek for "lizard", and "kongwe," Swahili for "ancient."

Article from: CosmosMagazine.com



Related Articles
Massive hoard of 65-million-years old dinosaur eggs found in India
Canadian scientist aims to turn chickens into dinosaurs
Early human relative predates even dinosaurs
Dino-Era Feathers Found Encased in Amber
Scientists Come to a Conclusion: Asteroid Killed the Dinosaurs


Latest News from our Front Page

Better Identification of Viking Corpses Reveals: Half of the Warriors Were Female
2015-04-25 4:52
Shieldmaidens are not a myth! A recent archaeological discovery has shattered the stereotype of exclusively male Viking warriors sailing out to war while their long-suffering wives wait at home with baby Vikings. (We knew it! We always knew it.) Plus, some other findings are challenging that whole “rape and pillage” thing, too. Researchers at the University of Western Australia decided ...
Off Your Knees, Germany! Ernst Zundel 1983 - 2003
2015-04-25 1:15
For more information on the holocaust, how the war was forced upon Germany, and the REAL victims of the second world war see: http://gblt.webs.com/Real_Holocaust.htm http://web.archive.org/web/20130806074314/http://www.666blacksun.org/ http://www.zundelsite.org/
IRS Drops Attack For Six Years – No Evidence of Jurisdiction
2015-04-24 20:29
A big congrats to a friend I’ve been working with for several years, he stood up to the predators commonly called the “IRS” and they dropped their attack. Thanks also for providing me with the proof below. The criminals called the “IRS” initiated an attack claiming my friend was required to file six tax returns, or explain how he made ...
Into Eternity - Finland's 100,000 Year Massive Underground Spent Nuclear Fuel Program
2015-04-24 20:49
Into Eternity is a documentary about a deep geological repository for nuclear waste. The concept of long-term underground storage for radioactive waste has been explored since the 1950s. The inner part of the Russian doll-like storage canisters is to be composed of copper. Hence in the case of Onkalo it is tightly linked to experiments on copper corrosion in running ...
SPLC Accuses Oath Keepers of Inciting “Armed Confrontation” Over Sugar Pine Mine
2015-04-24 20:22
The Southern Poverty Law Center has accused Oath Keepers of inciting an armed confrontation with BLM authorities over the Sugar Pine Mine dispute in Oregon, despite the fact that the organization has explicitly stated that it is not promoting armed confrontation with the feds. In an article provocatively posted on the organization’s ‘Hatewatch’ section entitled Oath Keepers Descend Upon Oregon with ...
More News »