(ORDO NEWS) — He was named Kongo Naphon kelly, which means “killer of tiny insects,” a creature the size of a coffee cup.
A tiny insect killer, lived in Madagascar about 237 million years ago during the Triassic period, reaching only 10 centimeters in height. However, scientists claim that K. kely belonged to the ancient Ornithodira group: the last common ancestor of all dinosaurs and pterosaurs that will rule on Earth.
“There is a general perception of dinosaurs as giants,” says paleontologist Christian Kammerer of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences.
“But this new animal is very close to dinosaurs and pterosaurs, and it is amazingly small.”
How did such colossal creatures evolve from such a small ancestor? There is no answer yet, since relatively few samples from the root origin of Ornithodira have been discovered and studied.
That’s why old insect killer bones are so important. They were first discovered during field work in 1998 on a fossilized site in the southwest of Madagascar, along with the remains of hundreds of other ancient specimens.
“It took some time before we could focus on these bones, but as soon as we did, it became clear that we had something unique and worth a closer look,” says paleontologist John Flynn of the American Museum of Natural History.
“Although dinosaurs and gigantism are practically synonyms, analysis of the evolution of body sizes in dinosaurs and other archosaurs in the context of this find and related forms shows that the earliest diverging members of the group could be smaller than previously thought, and that miniaturization occurred at the base of the line birds,” the team writes in the article.
Evidence of this is presented in the form of teeth of a killer of tiny insects and abrasions on them, which corresponds to a diet consisting of insects with a hard shell, scientists say. If they are right, it is possible that these ancestors of dinosaurs and pterosaurs have adapted their sizes to “invade zones of resources that were not previously occupied by archosaurs,” as an evolutionary advantage.
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