- Why Joel Osteen gets cyberbullied every time Houston floods 2 Years Ago
- How to stream Jets vs. Patriots in Week 3 2 Years Ago
- 10 indie dating simulator games you should be playing 2 Years Ago
- How to stream Packers vs. Broncos in Week 3 Today 12:14 PM
- Saudi crown prince’s former adviser suspended from Twitter Today 11:57 AM
- How to stream Cowboys vs. Dolphins in Week 3 Today 11:57 AM
- YouTuber to pay restitution after a teen fan died copying her video Today 10:36 AM
- Antonio Brown sent ‘intimidating’ texts to an accuser, including a pic of her children Today 9:38 AM
- Facebook suspended tens of thousands of apps after Cambridge Analytica scandal Today 8:24 AM
- How to stream Browns vs. Rams on Sunday Night Football Today 6:00 AM
- How to watch ‘NFL Primetime’ on ESPN+ Today 5:00 AM
- How to stream Liverpool vs. Chelsea Friday 6:45 PM
- How to stream Real Madrid vs. Sevilla Friday 6:35 PM
- How to stream Peter ‘Kid Chocolate’ Quillin vs. Alfredo Angulo Friday 5:16 PM
- How to stream Barcelona vs. Granada Friday 4:50 PM
Ancient crocodile-like beast has scientists rethinking dinosaur evolution
Fossils from 245 million years ago represent beginning of transition toward earliest dinosaurs.
BY ALASDAIR WILKINS
It’s fairly well-established now that birds aren’t simply the living descendants of dinosaurs—they are dinosaurs, albeit smaller and more airborne than the great reptiles that once roamed the Earth.
And just as birds represent the end of the dinosaurs’ story, paleontologists have speculated they were the beginning as well, with the immediate evolutionary ancestor of dinosaurs thought to be a small, birdlike creature. But a newly described species from 245 million years ago reveals the origins of dinosaurs actually looked a whole lot like a crocodile.
For the 135 million years comprising the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods, dinosaurs reigned supreme, but they were still supporting players during the preceding Triassic. The dominant land animals during this time, from about 200 to 250 million years ago, were known as archosaurs, which literally means “ruling reptiles.” These creatures were the most recent common ancestors of all dinosaurs—so all birds as well—and all crocodiles and alligators. An international team of researchers have just published in Nature a description of Teleocrater rhadinus, which represents the first step on the path from archosaurs toward dinosaurs and birds.
It turns out the carnivorous Teleocrater looked far more like a crocodile than a bird. It measured about 7 to 10 feet long, had a long neck and tail, and walked on four legs. It’s a far cry from what paleontologists thought the earliest proto-dinosaur might look like, which is basically a tiny, two-legged, birdlike dinosaur.
The first Teleocrater fossils were discovered way back in 1933 in Tanzania, but there weren’t enough bones preserved for researchers to figure out just where the species belonged on the archosaur family tree. Further finds in 2015 revealed telltale features, like its ankle bones, that made clear it belonged at a transitional point between archosaurs and later dinosaurs. Not that Teleocrater would have gotten to see its dinosaur descendants achieve total world domination—the species likely went extinct before dinosaurs emerged in the later Triassic.
Sarah Weber is the former editor of Daily Dot’s Parsec section, where she wrote about geek culture. She previously worked as a reporter and editor at community newspapers in the Midwest and was recognized by the Ohio Associated Press for news reporting.