News / Science & Technology

Scientists Discover Earliest Known Dinosaur Relative

A life reconstruction of Asilisaurus kongwe, a close dinosaur relative, from the Middle Triassic of Africa.
A life reconstruction of Asilisaurus kongwe, a close dinosaur relative, from the Middle Triassic of Africa.
TEXT SIZE - +

Scientists have announced the discovery a relative of dinosaurs that lived ten million years earlier than the oldest known dinosaurs.  Paleontologists say the creature will improve their understanding of prehistoric animals. 

The fossils of Asilisaurus kongwe were recovered by paleontologists in a large bone bed in Tanzania in 2003.  

The creature, which shared many characteristics of dinosaurs but lacked many key features, lived 240-million years ago in the middle Triassic period before any known dinosaur.  The earliest dinosaur fossils date back 230-million years.

Scientists say Asilisaurus was approximately the size of a dog, about one to three meters long weighing ten to thirty kilograms.  It also walked on four legs.
 
Sterling Nesbitt, a geoscientist at the University of Texas in Austin, led the team of excavators.  Nesbitt says Asilisaurus ate a variety of plants and some meat. "They have adaptations that suggest it ate plants in the mouth, such as these peg-like teeth and a very short little beak on the lower jaw," he explained.

Paleontologists unearthed the bones of at least fourteen mostly young Asilisaurs that all died at the same time, and scientists had enough fossils to assemble a nearly complete animal.
 
Experts say the existence of Asilisaurus ten million years before the earliest known dinosaurs suggests dinosaurs had already begun to diverge from common ancestors into separate lineages 240 million ago.
 
Nesbitt says several distinct groups of dinosaurs sprung from Asilisaurus, including plant-eating silesaurs, flying dinosaurs known as pterosaurs and several groups of ancient crocodile relatives, some of which were also found in the bone bed along with Asilisauris.

The relationship between Asilisaurus and the dinosaurs, according to Nesbitt, is similar to the relationship of chimps to humans. "To find something that's one of the closest relatives to dinosaurs really helps our understanding of the divergence of dinosaur-like animals and even dinosaurian," he said.

An article describing Asilisaurus kongwe is published this week in journal Nature.

You May Like

Analysts Warn of Regional Proxy Conflict in Afghanistan

Analysts warn if Kabul’s neighbors do not start to cooperate, competing desires for influence could deteriorate into a bloody proxy war in the country More

Saudi Intelligence Chief Replaced

Bandar bin Sultan came under criticism for supporting al Qaida, prompting King Abdallah to wrest Syria operations away from him in February, handing them to Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef More

Poetry Magazine editor Don Share talks what makes a good poem with VOA's David Byrd

What makes a good poem? And is poetry as viable an art form as it once was? To find out, VOA's David Byrd spoke to Don Share, the editor of Poetry Magazine. More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid