When Bunostegos akokanensis reared up off of its haunches about 260 million years ago, it stood alone. The prehistoric reptile, not as cute as a cow but likened to one anyway, was the first animal to stand on all fours, Brown University researchers found after study the bones of the beast.
Initially believed to have scurried around with its belly scraping the ground like the other "sprawlers" who crawled all over super-continent Pangaea during the Permian era. During those days, a lot of the animals moved about similar to Buno's upright stance or stood with a semi-upright posture, according to Morgan Turner, study's lead author.
Buno stood out, and upright, because of its forelimbs, according to Turner. But with its anatomy still ordered in a sprawling build, Buno likely looked like it was showing of similar to those brilliant apes that stood and stayed on their feet hundreds of millions of years later.
"The elements and features within the forelimb bones won't allow a sprawling posture -- that is unique," Turner said however.
After examining Buno's joints, the paleontologist concluded that the ancient reptiles' limb was positioned directly below its core. Its humerus, or thigh bone, isn't twisted to the outside of Buno's body like true sprawlers.
The animal's shoulder joints were also positioned to hold the humerus in place and prevent it from jutting away from its flanks.
If Buno was ever considered a looker, that age has long since passed. Likely to draw snickers and snidey remarks in the U.K., Buno is described as having a "knobby head."
"Imagine a cow-sized, plant-eating reptile with a knobby skull and bony armor down its back," said Royal Ontario Museum's Linda Tsuji, the study's co-author who was in the midst of the action when the dust settle and Buno's bones emerged in Niger back in 2003.
All of the details of Buno's build were detailed in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology back on Sept. 11.