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

The Pilgrims Were Definitely Not Like Modern-Day Refugees
2015-11-27 20:01
This upcoming Thanksgiving Day is sure to offer you and your family plenty of opportunities to argue over whether America should be welcoming Syrian refugees. If you have any liberal relatives or friends coming over for your Thursday feast, they’re going to relish the chance to tell everyone that the Pilgrims were refugees too — and hope that statement decimates all ...
ISIS to France: "We will be coming. Victory has been promised to us by Allah"
2015-11-26 3:33
Homegrown French ISIS fighters have issued a chilling threat of new attacks on France just 24 hours after the terrorist group used movie footage of the Eiffel Tower's collapse in another video.  A balaclava-clad militant is seen warning 'we will be coming, we will come to crush your country' in footage posted on Twitter earlier today. It is unclear where the film ...
ISIS teenage 'poster girl' Samra Kesinovic 'beaten to death' as she tried to flee the group
2015-11-26 1:07
She appeared in social media images for the group carrying a Kalashnikov and surrounded by armed men A teenage girl who ran away from her Vienna home to join Isis in Syria has reportedly been beaten to death by the group after trying to escape. Samra Kesinovic, 17, travelled to Syria last year with her friend Sabina Selimovic, 15. The two became a ...
The Right Stuff's flagship podcast "The Daily Shoah" has been censored by Soundcloud
2015-11-25 22:56
Editor's note: The PC corporate moral police strike again. Just as Radio 3Fourteen & Red Ice Radio were censored from iTunes, The Daily Shoah was pulled from Soundcloud today. As per usual, there is a double standard, they allow any kind of anti-White material: No counter culture humor making fun of the genocidal mainstream garbage is allowed! ... From: therightstuff.biz Soundcloud took it upon ...
Merkel Welcomes A Million More: Vows To Stand By Refugee Policy Despite Security Fears
2015-11-25 21:05
Chancellor Angela Merkel vowed on Wednesday to stick to her open-door refugee policy, defying criticism at home and abroad which has intensified due to growing fears about a potential security risk after the Islamist attacks in Paris. Conservative Merkel faces splits in her right-left coalition and pressure from EU states, including France, over her insistence that Germany can cope with up ...
More News »