STATES CHRONICLE – Paleontologists have discovered the fossil of an ancient dinosaur which appears to have had crocodile legs or at least similar legs to those of a crocodile. When excavating a basin situated in southern Tanzania, they have revealed a 245-million-year-old fossil which belonged to one of the relatives of dinosaurs. Scientists argued that the massive creature was not a direct ancestor to dinosaurs.
A relative of dinosaurs was discovered to have crocodile legs
Nevertheless, paleontologists claimed that it was a sort of close cousin, being called Teleocrater rhadinus. The findings were published in the Nature magazine on April 12. This new data might help researchers add new pieces to the puzzle concerning people’s understanding of the evolution of dinosaurs. The discovery may also shed light on what dinosaur’s relative looked like.
Randall B. Irmis, who is a curator of paleontology at the Natural History Museum of Utah, claimed that this is the first time when scientists have an insight into the first forms on the ancestry which leads to birds, dinosaurs, and pterosaurs. The new research is bound to fuel further studies which will try to reveal why and how dinosaurs and pterosaurs managed to evolve in different ways from their early relatives.
The crocodile-like dinosaur was called Teleocrater rhadinus
Teleocrater rhadinus is an archosaur, being part of a group which encapsulated all dinosaur, birds and flying reptiles pterosaurs, as well as alligators and crocodiles. Approximately 250 million years ago, when the Triassic Period started, the archosaurs developed into two primary branches: the first one consisted of all the birds which also included dinosaurs and the second one encapsulated crocodiles. The Teleocrater is believed to be an early member of the bird-line archosaurs.
This species had appeared about 10 million to 15 million years before dinosaurs started to be part of the ancestry. For such a creature, which was closely a relative of dinosaurs, it did not look dinosaur-like. It appears to have had crocodile legs, walking on four limbs and it had somewhere between six to ten feet long. Some scientists argued that it looked like a Komodo dragon which had a very long neck.
Paleontologists were surprised by this creature’s ankles which appeared to be similar to the ones found in crocodiles than those discovered in dinosaurs or birds. This is strange even for researchers since Teleocrater was part of the bird lineage and not the crocodile one.
Image courtesy of: wikipedia