Researchers have discovered an ancient relative of dinosaurs, a 4-inch reptile that lived 237 million years ago.
Known as Kongonaphon kelyThe old reptile was a “tiny beetle hunter” and lived in today’s Madagascar. This emerges from a study published in the Proceedings journal of the National Academy of Sciences. The fossil was first discovered in 1998 by a team of researchers from around the world, including the American Museum of Natural History.
“There is a general perception of dinosaurs as giants,” the study’s lead author, Christian Kammerer, said in a statement. “But this new animal is very close and shockingly small to the divergence of dinosaurs and pterosaurs.”
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With the pointed, though worn, teeth, the researchers say Congo phonon is likely to feed on insects. They also looked at part of the reptile’s thighbone and came to the conclusion that it was a full-grown creature and not a baby.
John Flynn, who contributed to the discovery of the fossil in the late 1990s, said he was surprised by the small size of the Congo phone, but also by how unique the discovery was.
“This fossil site in southwestern Madagascar, from a time interval little known worldwide, has produced some amazing fossils, and this tiny specimen has been mixed up among the hundreds that we have collected at the site over the years,” Flynn added in the statement.
“It took some time to focus on these bones, but when we did, it was clear that we had something unique that was worth a closer look,” Flynn continued. “This is a good case for why field discoveries – combined with modern technology – analyzing the fossils obtained – is still so important. “
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Project co-leader and co-author of the study, Lovasoa Ranivoharimanana, said the find shows how important Madagascar has become to archaeologists over the years given the number of ancient fossils found on the African island.
“The discovery of this tiny relative of dinosaurs and pterosaurs underscores the importance of Madagascar’s fossil record in improving knowledge of the history of vertebrates in times that are barely known elsewhere,” said Ranivoharimanana, professor and director of the paleontology laboratory for vertebrates at the University of Antananarivo in Madagascar.
It is believed that Congo phonon Ornithodira may have belonged to this group, which includes dinosaurs and birds. However, further research is needed to gain a better understanding of their development.
“Recent discoveries such as Kongonaphon have given us a much better understanding of the early evolution of ornithodirans,” said Kammerer ancestry.
Experts continue to learn more about the beginnings of dinosaurs. A study published last month found that some dinosaurs faced with scarce resources have resorted to cleanup and possibly cannibalism.
A study published in March suggested that dinosaurs covered significantly shorter distances and had a drastically different migration behavior than originally assumed.
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