Scientists Find Remains Of A Dinosaur-era Herbivore

Posted: Nov 25 2018, 3:48am CST | by , in Latest Science News


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Scientists Find Remains of a Dinosaur-era Herbivore
Artistic reconstruction of Lisowicia bojani. Credit: Karolina Suchan-Okulska

The find overturns the notion that dinosaurs were the only giant plant-eaters in Triassic period.

A new species of giant, plant-eating creature has been discovered in southern Poland. The ancient animal looked like cross between a rhino and a turtle and had a body mass of about 9 tons, roughly the size of an African elephant.

The elephant-sized creature lived around 200 million years ago, a time when dinosaurs also roamed the Earth. The discovery suggests that dinosaurs were not the only giant plant-eaters during the late Triassic period. Other large herbivores also existed at same time as dinosaurs.

"We used to think that after the end-Permian extinction, mammals and their relatives retreated to the shadows while dinosaurs rose up and grew to huge sizes.” Co-author Grzegorz Niedzwiedzki, a paleontologist at Uppsala University in Sweden, said.

The creature Lisowicia bojani was named after a village in Poland where it was found and belonged to the same branch in evolutionary family tree as mammals. It was basically a dicynodont, a group of animals who looked more like reptiles but they were actually the precursors of early mammals.

Since 2006, researchers have excavated more than 1000 bones of the creature. They initially thought that the remains came from a sauropod dinosaur but analysis of skull fragments and limb bones revealed that Lisowicia is the youngest undisputed dicynodont. It reached an estimated length of more than 4.5 meters and height of 2.6 meters.

The find give new insight into the diversity of giant dicynodonts that walked along sauropod dinosaur and later gave rise to iconic long-necked diplodocus. This means that environmental factors in the late Triassic period may have driven the evolution of gigantism.

“Large dicynodonts have been known before in both the Permian and the Triassic, but never at this scale,” said Christian Kammerer, a dicynodont specialist at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences who was not involved in the find. "However, overall I think this is a very intriguing and important paper, and shows us that there is a still a lot left to learn about early mammal relatives in the Triassic.”

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/47" rel="author">Hira Bashir</a>
The latest discoveries in science are the passion of Hira Bashir (). With years of experience, she is able to spot the most interesting new achievements of scientists around the world and cover them in easy to understand reporting.




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