Researchers have discovered what they believe to be the oldest dinosaur found yet, or at the very least, a close relative of the extinct animals.
The animal, called a Nyasasaurus, was about the size of a golden retriever, with a five-foot long tail. The animal likely stood upright, was about seven to 10 feet long, and about three feet at the hip. The nyasasaurus would have weighed between 45 and 135 pounds.
It existed about 10 million years earlier than more familiar species, like the Eorapter or Herrerasaurus.
The animal's existence means that dinosaurs appeared on the planet 10 to 15 million years earlier than previously thought.
The dinosaur's bone tissue appears woven together haphazardly, similar to other dinosaurs. The bone appearance is consistent with animals that grow quickly, like in some mammals and birds.
"It's a very good example of a transitional fossil; the bone tissue shows that Nyasasaurus grew about as fast as other primitive dinosaurs, but not as fast as later ones," said Sarah Werning, a co-author of the study from the University of California, Berkeley.
All of these findings were made possible just from a small portion of bone - the humerus, or upper arm bone, and six vertebrae.
The fossilized bones were first found in Tanzania in the 1930s, but researchers are not taking that as a sign that dinosaur life appeared in Tanzania. At that time, Tanzania would have been a part of southern Pangaea, which would have also included Antarctica, Australia, and South America, in addition to Africa. Researchers do believe that the placement of the fossils does mean that dinosaur life started in southern Pangaea.
The finding has caused researchers to believe that dinosaurs shared the planet with other archosaurs. That includes crocodiles and their kin. Archosaurs were the ruling land animal 250 million years ago.
Published by Medicaldaily.com