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 we’ve 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

New Jersey Shopkeeper Hangs 'White History Month' Sign In Window
2015-03-05 18:08
A deli owner in Flemington, New Jersey, has angered many of his neighbors by posting a sign on his window that reads, "Celebrate Your White Heritage in March White History Month." Jim Boggess, who is the owner of Jimbo's Deli, says he put up the sign to remind everyone that they should be proud of their race and culture. "No matter what ...
The Viking ”Maine Penny” Mystery
2015-03-05 3:41
In 1957, during his second year of digging at the Goddard site; a large prehistoric Indian trade village in Penobscot Bay on the central Maine coast, local resident and amateur archaeologist Guy Mellgren found a small silver coin. The coin is later identified by experts as a Norse silver penny dating to the reign of Olaf Kyrre, king of Norway ...
The Sagas of the (Viking) Icelanders Shed Light on Golden Age
2015-03-05 3:40
The Sagas of the Icelanders have long been preserved as the most comprehensive specimen of the literary culture of the 13th and 14th centuries of Iceland. In writing these sagas, many attributes of the 10th and 11th centuries were conserved, particularly individual biographies, the history of family feuds, and the overall evolution of the one of the greatest settlements ...
Benjamin Netanyahu's Full Speech to Congress
2015-03-05 1:36
Here is the full speech of Pathological Zionist Liar Benjamin Netanyahu to the United States Congress. "And the Oscar goes too ...." Description from YouTube: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel used one of the most prominent platforms in the world on Tuesday to warn against what he called a “bad deal” being negotiated with Iran to freeze its nuclear program, bringing ...
The FDA Admits That Prior to 2011 Over 70% of U.S. Chickens Contained Cancer-Causing Arsenic
2015-03-04 20:32
Prior to 2011, the cancer-causing toxic chemical Roxarsone, which in high doses could kill you, was being added to chicken feed on purpose, giving store-bought chicken the illusion of healthy coloring and plump appearance. Shockingly, this was the case with more than 70 percent of all U.S. chickens! A recent article was published stating that this continued to be the ...
More News »