World’s Oldest Known Dinosaur Identified

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Dec. 5 2012 5:26 PM

World’s Oldest Known Dinosaur Identified

The world’s oldest known dinosaur spent the past 50 years undiscovered in a London museum closet—but that’s a small blip compared with the 240 million years it waited to be excavated from the ground.

First uncovered in Tanzania in the 1930s, the specimen was the subject of a new study (PDF) that used rocks above and below the original discovery to date it back to the Middle Triassic. In the process, it pushed dinosaur fossil records back 10 to 15 million years earlier than previously known. The dog-sized, long-necked beast also earned a new name, Nyasasaurus parringtoni.

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Scientists said more research was needed, but if the findings are confirmed, the new dinosaur would be a rare early example of dinosaur evolution—well before they ruled the Earth.

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