BEACON TRANSCRIPT – A new study discovered an interesting ancestor of dinosaurs. After thorough laser analyses and excavations, researchers discovered that this ancestor does not look like you would think it would. It seems that it resembled crocodiles more than it resembled dinosaurs.
The analyzed fossils belong to Teleocrater rhadinus and a more detailed study of them was published in the journal Nature. This represents an amazing discovery, since it challenges all the previous ideas on how the ancestors of the dinosaurs looked like and how these animals evolved.
A dinosaur ancestor which resembled crocodiles
Teleocrater roamed on Earth 245 million years ago. This is ten million years before the first animal which scientists regarded as first of the dinosaurs. The animal resembled a lizard, with a long tail and neck which measured between 7 and 10 feet.
Scientists are a bit puzzled, as they could not identify the exact relationship between the Teleocrater and dinosaurs. The former is not the direct ancestor of dinosaurs, as it did not evolve into them. However, these lizard-like creatures play an important role in the history of dinosaurs.
The Teleocrater, together with birds, crocodiles, and dinosaurs, belong to the archosaur family. One important characteristic that they all share is the shape of their skull. At a certain moment in the past, namely 250 million years ago, the archosaur group split into two smaller groups. The first included crocodiles, while the second birds and dinosaurs.
What makes the Teleocrater interesting is the fact that it belongs to the second group, while looking more like the members of the first group. Also, this is not the first time when scientists unearth the remnants of such a specimen.
Alan J. Charig brought the Teleocrater into spotlight
In 1933, F. Rex Parrington discovered such a fossil in Tanzania, and added it to the collection of the Natural History Museum in London. Then, in the 1950s, Alan J. Charig brought it back to light and started studying it. He was the one who gave it the name of Teleocrater, but he died before putting together all the pieces in the animal’s history.
The remnants found in Tanzania in 2015 helped the scientists bring Charig’s work to a conclusion, and thus discovered the importance of the animal. In the honor of the man who started this study and spiced everybody’s interest about the Teleocrater, the researchers added him on the list of authors as an honorary mention.
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons