Earliest dinosaur found in Tanzania, as small as Labrador retriever, new research study suggests

By on Dec 5, 2012 in Amazing, Animals, Europe, Science Comments

The so-called earliest dinosaur was believed to have been found, which was said to be about the same size of a Labrador retriever, based on the fossilized bones discovered in Tanzania in the 1930s. Researchers have recently conducted an analysis on the fossils, which are housed in Natural History Museum in London.

earliest dinosaur Nyasasaurus

“Earliest dinosaur” Nyasasaurus parringtoni
(Artist’s impression)

Image Credit: Mark Witton/Natural History Museum

According to Discovery News on Tuesday, December 4, 2012, this supposed world’s oldest dinosaur is now named Nyasasaurus parringtoni, the combination of Nyasa, a term for lizard, and honoring the name of Rex Parrington, a University of Cambridge paleontologist who first discovered the fossils.

As noted in the report, Nyasasaurus, which the findings fully described in the online journal Biology Letters this Wednesday, December 5, has a long neck and lengthy tail, and is being believed to have lived on earth between 240 million and 245 million years ago, about 10 million years before the present oldest dinosaur record holders.

“From the few preserved bones, we estimate Nyasasaurus to be about 10 feet long with a long neck. These estimates are based on comparing the bones of Nyasasaurus to those of early dinosaurs and close relatives.” Lead researcher Sterling Nesbitt, a postdoctoral biology researcher at the University of Washington, told the paper.

“We can tell from the bone tissues that Nyasasaurus had a lot of bone cells and blood vessels. In living animals, we only see this many bone cells and blood vessels in animals that grow quickly, like some mammals or birds.” Sarah Werning of UC Berkeley, co-author of the study, was quoted as saying.

“If the newly named Nyasasaurus parringtoni is not the earliest dinosaur, then it is the closest relative found so far,” Nesbitt told Live Science, with his team of researchers concluding the age of the fossils based on the layer of rock in which it was found and the ages for the layers above and below it.

The animal, which likely stood upright, was estimated to have weighed between 45 and 135 pounds (20 to 60 kilograms), measures from 7 to 10 feet (2 to 3 meters) in length, and 3 feet (1 m) at the hip. The said discovery also suggests that some dinosaurs have started relatively small before some species grew to bigger sizes.



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