Fossils discovered in Tanzania in the 1930s have helped identify a “missing link” in dinosaur evolution that reveals their ancestors had long necks, walked on four legs and looked like crocodiles.
The 245-million-year-old fossils held in Britain’s Natural History Museum were studied by palaeontologist Alan Charig in the 1950s.
But they were incomplete and it was only more fossils found in Tanzania in 2015 that helped build up the skeleton of “Teleocrator rhadinus”.
“The finding forces a rethink of early dinosaur evolution,” the journal Nature, where the research was published on Wednesday, said in a summary.
“The discovery of such an important new species is a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” said Sterling Nesbitt, one of the authors and an assistant professor of geosciences at Virginia Tech in the US.
The international research project focuses on the evolution of a large group of reptiles called archosaurs into two branches: crocodiles and birds.
Dinosaurs evolved from the bird branch but the scientists found Teleocrators, which were already extinct by the time dinosaurs appeared, kept crocodile features and did not conform to a classic conception of early forms of dinosaur.
“Teleocrator has unexpectedly crocodile-like features that are causing us to completely reassess what we thought about the earliest stages of dinosaur evolution,” said Ken Angielczyk, another author who is the associate curator of fossil mammals at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago.
“Surprisingly, early dinosaur relatives were pretty profoundly not dinosaur-like,” he said.
“Scientists generally don’t love the term ‘missing link’ but that’s kind of what Teleocrater is: a missing link between dinosaurs and the common ancestor they share with crocodiles,” he said.
Paul Barrett at the Natural History Museum said: “My colleague Alan Charig would have been thrilled to see one of ‘his’ animals finally being named and occupying such an interesting position in the Tree of Life.
“Our discovery shows the value of maintaining and re-assessing historical collections: many new discoveries, like this one, can be made by looking through museum collections with fresh eyes,” he said.
Ocasio-Cortez blasts her NYC mayor for ‘making excuses’ for NYPD violence against protesters
The youngest woman ever elected to Congress ripped her city's mayor on Saturday for "making excuses" for New York Police Department actions.
In videos that circulated widely on social media, NYPD cruisers can be seen driving into pedestrian protesters.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) blasted New York City Mayor de Blasio for defending the NYPD.
On Twitter, she told the mayor, "your comments tonight were unacceptable."
‘Light ’em up’: Police open fire on people filming them from their front porch
Video reportedly taken from the Wittier neighborhood of Minneapolis on Saturday shows authorities shooting projectiles upon people filming them from a front porch.
On Friday, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey imposed a curfew on the city, but his emergency order did not apply to citizens' homes or front porches.
Yet a video posted on Twitter shows a Minnesota National Guard humvee rolling down residential streets, followed by a group of police.
"Look at this, they just keep coming," a woman is heard saying as the camera shows the police.
"Go inside. Get inside," the police shouted.
‘They just fired on us’: Horrifying videos of cops ‘using journalists for target practice’ in Minneapolis
Journalists covering the protests in Minneapolis reported on being targeted by police on Saturday.
Multiple reports -- including live coverage on CNN -- showed police firing rubber bullets at journalists.
It’s open season on the media for the cops in Minneapolis. Evil. https://t.co/ZR3Nnf9ofH
— Nick Stellini (@StelliniTweets) May 31, 2020