210 million year old ‘new’ dinosaur found in South Africa


This video is about animals in the late Permian and Triassic periods.

From the BBC:

Fossil traces deep dinosaur roots

Scientists have described a new primitive dinosaur species, Eocursor parvus, which lived in the Late Triassic – about 210 million years ago.

Unearthed in South Africa’s Free State, the creature appears to have been a small, agile plant-eater.

The team tells a Royal Society journal that Eocursor sheds light on the early evolution of the Ornithischia.

This important group included the well known herbivororous dinosaurs Triceratops and Stegosaurus.

The fossil specimen was first identified in 1993 but only recently appraised.

It is by far the most complete example of a Triassic ornithischian known, comprising skull and skeletal material, including bones of the backbone, arms, pelvis and legs.

Gripping hands

In its day, Eocursor would have been little bigger than a fox.

Its bone structure and light form suggest it moved swiftly.

See also here.

And here.

Triassic dinosaurs and their ancestors: here.

2 thoughts on “210 million year old ‘new’ dinosaur found in South Africa

  1. Dinosaurs, Ancestors May Have Coexisted

    By RANDOLPH E. SCHMID

    The Associated Press

    July 19, 2007

    Dinosaurs shared the Earth for millions of years with the species that were their ancestors, a new study concludes.

    Dinosaurs arose in the Late Triassic, between 235 million and 200 million years ago, and came to dominate the planet in the Jurassic, 200 million to 120 million years ago.

    Scientists had thought the dinosaurs rapidly replaced their ancestor species. Indeed, until 2003, when a creature called Silesaurus was discovered in Poland, no dinosaur precursors had been found from the Late Triassic.

    Now, researchers report in the journal Science they have evidence from northern New Mexico that dinosaurs and their precursor species coexisted for tens of millions of years.

    Matthew T. Carrano, curator of dinosauria at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, said there has been a long-standing debate over whether dinosaurs replaced earlier species gradually or suddenly.

    ‘What they have is a snapshot of the transition, and it’s clear there is a persistent environment with dinosaurs and these other older animals. So, at least in this place in the southwestern U.S., it was not abrupt,’ said Carrano, who was not part of the research team.

    ‘Finding dinosaur precursors … together with dinosaurs tells us something about the pace of changeover. If there was any competition between the precursors and dinosaurs, then it was a very prolonged competition,’ Randall Irmis, a graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley and co-author of the report, said in a statement.

    The team reported finding 1,300 fossil specimens, including several complete bones, at Hayden Quarry at Ghost Ranch, an area made famous through the paintings of Georgia O’Keeffe.

    There were no complete skeletons, and researchers are continuing to work at the site.

    Their finds included bones from both early dinosaurs and dinosaur precursors as well as remains of crocodile ancestors, fish and amphibians, all dating between 220 million and 210 million years ago.

    Included were leg bones of the carnivorous Chindesaurus bryansmalli, a close relative of the Coelophysis, a well-known Triassic dinosaur. They said both walked on two legs, reminiscent of the much later Velociraptor depicted in the film ‘Jurassic Park.’

    They also found remains of a Dromomeron romeri, a relative of the 235 million-year-old Argentinian middle Triassic precursor called Lagerpeton. Dromomeron was between three and five feet long, the authors concluded.

    Another discovery was an unnamed, four-footed beaked grazer about three times the size of Dromomeron, they said.

    The research was funded by the National Geographic Society, the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Fund and the Jurassic Foundation.

    ___

    On the Net:

    Science: http://www.sciencemag.org

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  2. A juvenile dinosaur weighing less than two sticks of butter was a toothy hodgepodge equipped with fang-like canines to tear into small mammals, reptiles and insects, as well as flat molars for plant munching.

    Researchers recently found the skull of this dinosaur called Heterodontosaurus tucki in a drawer at the Iziko South African Museum. Now considered one of the smallest dinosaur skulls ever discovered, measuring less than two inches (45 millimeters) in length, the noggin is helping scientists to figure out how and when meat-eating dinosaurs evolved into plant-eaters.

    “It’s likely that all dinosaurs evolved from carnivorous ancestors,” said researcher Laura Porro, a post-doctoral student at the University of Chicago. “Since heterodontosaurs are among the earliest dinosaurs adapted to eating plants, they may represent a transition phase between meat-eating ancestors and more sophisticated, fully-herbivorous descendents.”

    (Heterodontosaurus was one of the earliest ornithischian dinosaurs, which were bird-hipped herbivores whose members included duck-billed and horned dinosaurs.)

    http://www.livescience.com/animals/081023-small-dino-skull.html

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