Among more than 2,000 ancient fossils found in an African excavation, paleontologists have discovered new species of some of the earliest dinosaurs.
Paleontologists did not know much about the early Triassic below the equator prior to conducting this research. With a decade of research, nine months of excavation in two countries and partnerships between different institutions, paleontologists now understand better how life on Earth existed when the first dinosaurs developed.
The scientists published a series of articles in which fossils found in Tanzania and Zambia were discovered and studied 252 million years ago. During this time, the Triassic, both countries were part of a vast land mass called Pangea, which consisted of all the continents sunk into a globe.
On Wednesday, a research team published 13 new studies as part of a project involving a total of 37 works. In this investigation, more than 2,000 new fossils, information on the ancient environment and fossils were found by Teleocrater, an early dinosaur relative discovered in 2017 Discover magazine.
Researchers also found a lizard-like reptile called Procolophonid, as well as some very early dinosaurs, according to a press release. By comparing the findings with others in the Southern Hemisphere, including the Antarctic, researchers have been able to gain a broader understanding of the Triassic world. They published their findings in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.
"These papers show what a regional perspective we now have – we have the same fossils from Tanzania, Antarctica, Namibia and more," Christian Sidor, biology professor at the University of Washington and Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology at the Burke Museum for natural history and culture said in a statement. "We get a much better perspective of the southern hemisphere of what's going on in the Triassic."
Two hundred and fifty-two Millions of years ago, the fossilized era was an important time in Earth's history. After the end-Permian mass extinction, much of Earth's life had died out, and the few, unremarkable animals that remained remained began to diversify. From these early Triassic animals eventually developed mammals and dinosaurs.