Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Possibly Oldest Dino Uncovered

Paleontologists have discovered the bones of a 240 million years old dino, little larger than a domestic dog.   This discovery pushes back the appearance of dinosaurs at least 10 million years.  

This discovery at the very least could change researchers’ views of how dinosaurs evolved.

The fossils first came to light in the 1930s   and studied for decades by the paleontologist Alan Charig, 
until he died in 1997.  He named the animal Nyasasaurus,  but never published his conclusions as to the true genus of the animal.  Many of the other specimens from the same strata at the Tanzania’s Manda Beds, were very close relatives of the dinosaurs.  So close in fact that  the "sister taxon" is closest it can be to a dinosaur without actually being one.

Examining Nyasasaurus closer uncovered traits of both dinosaurs as well as the sister group.   A  team of paleontologists at the University of Washington, Seattle,lead by Sterling Nesbitt, carried out a systematic comparison of the bones.  They found that Nyasasaurus, bones contained a number of characteristics that belong to true dinosaurs.  

For more, check out the Wired com article  or the Science Now article here

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