Fossils of what is believed to be the first species of dinosaurs that lived some 252 million years ago have been found in two African excavation sites.
2,200 Pieces Of Fossils Discovered
After a decade of research and nine months of extensive excavation, researchers discovered 2,200 pieces of fossils of ancient dinosaur remains dated back to the Triassic period. Little is known about the first generation of dinosaurs, but paleontologists believe that they existed during the Pangaea era.
A team of researchers, from the University of Washington, have compiled their data and published 13 new peer-reviewed articles, with a total of 37 studies for this particular project. All these detailed the information about such environment, including the remains of Teleocrater, an ancient dinosaur relative.
In addition, researchers published information about the newly discovered procolophonid, a reptile resembling the modern-day lizard.
In a statement, the researchers said that their paleontological findings in Zambia and Tanzania and those conducted in Antarctica have helped them better understand life during the Triassic period.
The studies were published on Wednesday in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.
Wiped Out From The Face Of Earth
The Triassic Era is a crucial part of the history because it was when the last surviving species of the planet thrived before the so-called mass extinction happened.
"Most of what we know about the major mass extinction is from the South African Karoo Basin. I was always interested in understanding, do we see the exact same pattern around the world, or do we not?" said co-author Christian Sidor, a professor of biology at UW and a curator of vertebrate paleontology at Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture.
Sidor's team, comprised of a group of students, geologists, paleontologists, and postdoctoral researchers, conducted excavations in Ruhuhu Basin ruins in Tanzania at least five times and the Luangwa and Zambezi ruin in four occasions.
Sidor said that these findings are highly valuable because they are able to picture a great portion of the ancient Southern Hemisphere when this data is combined with those from other sites like in Namibia.
This extensive work involved months of camping in local villages and national forest parks as well as hiking several miles on footpaths to reach the fossil sites.
The project was done in coordination with several institutions such as the National Science Foundation, the National Geographic Society, The Grainger Foundation, the Field Museum, and the African Partners Program.