STL Science Center

STL Science Center

30 August 2013

New Old Partial Dinosaurs

©Mark Witton
The original material of Nyasasaurus (Nyasasaurus parringtoni) was a partial skeleton described in the 1956 doctoral dissertation of Alan Charig. The material was minimal, consisting of a humerus, three sacral and three presacral/thoracic vertebrae. A second specimen exists, also minimal remains, consisting of a trio of cervical vertebrae and two postsacral/caudal vertebrae. Nyasasaurus was discovered in central Africa near Lake Nyasa (also known as Lake Malawi) in Tanzania. The skeletal elements were discovered in the early 1930's by Francis R. Parrington, and is now considered to represent what is possibly the oldest dinosaur known. Living with cynodonts, rhynchosaurs, and other therapsids and diapsids, Nyasasaurus dates from around 243 MYA, approximately 30 MY prior to Coelophysis. Perhaps, thanks in part to a paper published within the last year, we can definitively assign Nyasasaurus to a family, but for today, remember that it is considered one of the most basal dinosaurs and that it is most certainly an Archosaurian animal.

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