Dinosaur ancestors had 'crankles' - crocodile ankles, scientists find

Mandy Carr
April 14, 2017

This led to dinosaurs and eventually bird and crocodile branches, which eventually led to modern alligators and crocodiles. They estimate Teleocrater was 6 to 10 feet long, with a long neck and longer tail, and weighed 20 to 65 pounds.

Teleocrater likely stood on all four legs with its limbs positioned directly underneath its body.

The 2-3m (7-10ft) carnivorous animal, unearthed in southern Tanzania, lived some 245 million years ago during the Triassic Period. Consequently, scientists who studied the fossils could not tell whether the Teleocrater was related to crocs or dinosaurs. The reason has everything to do with lack of bones.

Recent research has revealed new specimens of an odd, not very well known animal called the Teleocrater rhadinus. Also, it has been confusing scientists with its odd appearance as it is believed to have boasted with crocodilian-like features, while still being more closely related to the dinosaur side of the family.

This is not the end of the research, as scientists are going back into the field with the hopes of coming across another specimen. It's natural to want to know where they came from, and how they became so dominant.

Other previously discovered early examples of the dinosaur/bird archosaur lineage displayed very dinosaur-like characteristics, so this discovery fills a fascinating gap illustrating a compelling evolutionary step.

The creature's name means "slender complete basin", in reference to its lean build and closed hip socket.

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Well, well, well... looks like it's time for yet another shake-up in the dinosaur story, this time courtesy of one of the animals' early relatives, Teleocrater rhadinus.

Dinosaurs belong to a larger group called archosaurs that about 250 million years ago cleaved into two branches: crocodilians in one and another that includes dinosaurs, extinct flying reptiles called pterosaurs, and birds, which evolved from feathered dinosaurs. The late Alan Charig‚ then-curator of fossil reptiles‚ amphibians and birds at the Natural History Museum in London‚ was the first to study those original specimens in the 1950s.

The global research project focuses on the evolution of a large group of reptiles called archosaurs into two branches: crocodiles and birds.

Teleocrater is one of several early dino cousins helping scientists to better understand the evolutionary origins of dinosaurs.

Other remains of Teleocrater were collected by an global team including numerous authors of this paper in 2015. The findings were published April 12 in the journal Nature, and it was conducted by a group of paleontologists and scientists from around the world. "That tells us that the crocodile ankle was primitive for the earliest archosaurs and that the bird ankle was derived from a crocodile-like ankle". This old ancestor is apparently the missing link between dinosaurs and the ancient crocodilian ancestors they had.

This enabled the researchers to work out that Teleocraters and their kin were the earliest known members of the dinosaur-bird branch of the archosaurs.

This original fossil discovery lacked ankle bones, and for much of the 20th century remained a unusual paleontological mystery until a new team returned to the original Tanzanian site and unearthed several new specimens in 2015.

Other reports by Guamnewswatch

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