Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Newly Found Bipedal Reptile Fossil Predates Dinosaurs By More Than 60 Million Years

Date:
November 3, 2000
Source:
University Of Toronto
Summary:
The oldest known fossil of an upright, bipedal reptile, which predates the age of the dinosaurs by at least 60 million years, has been discovered by an international team of scientists including two University of Toronto paleontologists.

The oldest known fossil of an upright, bipedal reptile, which predates the age of the dinosaurs by at least 60 million years, has been discovered by an international team of scientists including two University of Toronto paleontologists.

Related Articles


"There are only a couple of times in evolutionary history when animals have gone from a sprawled posture like that of a four-legged lizard to an upright posture when they tuck their limbs under the body," explains University of Toronto at Mississauga paleontology professor Robert Reisz, one of the lead authors of a paper to be published in the Nov. 3 edition of Science. "It happened once in dinosaurs and again with mammals. So to find an example of an animal that did this before dinosaurs or mammals is particularly exciting."

The 290-million-year-old specimen, which looks something like an upright lizard with forearms and a tail that more than doubles its body length, lived during the Permian period between 295 and 250 million years ago. Found in Germany in 1993, it is approximately 25 to 30 cm long and is preserved as a complete skeleton on a single slab of rock.

According to Reisz, this animal - formally known as Eudibamus cursoris - is a bolosaurid. This group of small reptiles died out near the end of the Permian period, which is marked by the largest extinction of life in the history of the Earth and is commonly recognized as the age before the dinosaurs.

"The bolosaurs proved to be a very interesting evolutionary experiment," Reisz says. "It was thought that the ability to run on two legs and stand upright first emerged in dinosaurs and their relatives. But this discovery has shown interesting and exciting things happening in the evolutionary history of reptiles well before the advent of dinosaurs. Other work, some of it still in progress, supports this idea, and we now have strong evidence of the early evolution of herbivorous reptiles on land."

This small reptile was also a herbivore and the researchers interpret its upright, bipedal ability as a mechanism for escaping predators, not becoming one as in the case of dinosaurs. "Since this bolosaur was able to tuck in its limbs under the body and run on two legs, it was basically faster than anything else around at the time. And for a small herbivorous animal that makes a lot of sense, especially when there are lots of larger predators around," Reisz adds.

Fragments of other bolosaurs have been found in what is now North America, China and Russia, confirming the widespread early distribution of this reptile. What makes this find even more significant is that most of the reptiles that lived during the early Permian were characterized by massive girdles, short, stocky limbs, a sprawling posture and gait, and relatively slow locomotion.

The other authors of the paper include Carnegie Museum of Natural History paleontologists David Berman and Amy Henrici, University of Toronto at Mississauga research associate Diane Scott, California State University biologist Stuart Sumida, and Museum der Natur Gotha paleontologist Thomas Martens.

Their research was supported by the National Geographic Society, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, Edward O'Neil Endowment Fund, M. Graham Netting Research Fund, Carnegie Museum of Natural History, and Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of Toronto. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of Toronto. "Newly Found Bipedal Reptile Fossil Predates Dinosaurs By More Than 60 Million Years." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 November 2000. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/11/001102150002.htm>.
University Of Toronto. (2000, November 3). Newly Found Bipedal Reptile Fossil Predates Dinosaurs By More Than 60 Million Years. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 27, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/11/001102150002.htm
University Of Toronto. "Newly Found Bipedal Reptile Fossil Predates Dinosaurs By More Than 60 Million Years." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/11/001102150002.htm (accessed November 27, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Fossils & Ruins News

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

New Dinosaur Species Found in Museum Collection

New Dinosaur Species Found in Museum Collection

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 27, 2014) A British palaeontologist has discovered a new species of dinosaur while studying fossils in a Canadian museum. Pentaceratops aquilonius was related to Triceratops and lived at the end of the Cretaceous Period, around 75 million years ago. Jim Drury has more. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Goes Under the Hammer

Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Goes Under the Hammer

Reuters - Entertainment Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) The iconic piano from "Casablanca" and the Cowardly Lion suit from "The Wizard of Oz" fetch millions at auction. Sara Hemrajani reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
3D Map of Antarctic Sea Ice to Shed Light on Climate Change

3D Map of Antarctic Sea Ice to Shed Light on Climate Change

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 24, 2014) A multinational group of scientists have released the first ever detailed, high-resolution 3-D maps of Antarctic sea ice. Using an underwater robot equipped with sonar, the researchers mapped the underside of a massive area of sea ice to gauge the impact of climate change. Ben Gruber reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ruins Thought To Be Port Actually Buried Greek City

Ruins Thought To Be Port Actually Buried Greek City

Newsy (Nov. 24, 2014) Media is calling it an "underwater Pompeii." Researchers have found ruins off the coast of Delos. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins