Previously Unknown Dinosaur Species Discovered in Argentina
by Patricia Cazares, age 13
Researchers have discovered one of the earliest dinosaurs. Scientists recently unearthed a small, and formally very vicious, dinosaur called Eodromaeus. This species lived about 230 million years ago, a time when dinosaurs were just starting to populate Earth. Eodromaeus weighed up to 14 pounds and was about four feet long. This new study will be published in the journal Science.
“It was very cute; you’d want it as a pet, but it might be best as a guard dinosaur, to keep the dogs away,” said Paul Sereno, a paleontologist at the University of Chicago and one of the study’s authors. The carnivorous dinosaur was light and fast, catching its prey easily and then devouring it with its sharp teeth.
Eodromaeus and Eoraptor were discovered in the Ischigualasto Formation of Argentina. This is a region that has yielded some of the oldest dinosaur remains found so far by scientists. The discovery leads many researchers to believe that the earliest dinosaurs were short in length and stature.
Eodromaeus is similar to another dinosaur called Eoraptor. The two species were about the same size and had similar structures. Both lived during the same time period. The main difference between them is that Eodromaeus was an early ancestor of the Tyrannosaurus Rex and theropod dinosaurs, while Eoraptor was an early ancestor of sauropods—a group that included long-necked herbivores.
“This gives us the earliest snapshot of dinosaurs, they were just a couple million years away from the ultimate ancestor,” said Dr. Sereno.
[Sources: The New York Times; Chicago Tribune]