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Scientists have discovered a new dinosaur ancestor called the ‘tiny bug slayer’

The dinosaur cousin was only 4 inches big.

SHARE Scientists have discovered a new dinosaur ancestor called the ‘tiny bug slayer’
This illustration provided by the American Museum of Natural History in July 2020 depicts a Kongonaphon kely, a newly described reptile near the ancestry of dinosaurs and pterosaurs, shown to scale with human hands. Kongonaphon lived roughly 237 million years ago.

This illustration provided by the American Museum of Natural History in July 2020 depicts a Kongonaphon kely, a newly described reptile near the ancestry of dinosaurs and pterosaurs, shown to scale with human hands. Kongonaphon lived roughly 237 million years ago.

Frank Ippolito, American Museum of Natural History

Researchers have discovered a new ancient relative of the dinosaursthat has been deemed a “bug slayer.”

  • The new reptile — official name Kongonaphon kely — was a noted “tiny bug slayer” that lived in what is now Madagascar, according to the researchers, who published their findings in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
  • Researchers — including some from the American Museum of Natural History — discovered the fossil in 1998.

Why it matters:

  • The study’s lead author, Christian Kammerer, in a statement: “There’s a general perception of dinosaurs as being giants. But this new animal is very close to the divergence of dinosaurs and pterosaurs, and it’s shockingly small.”

What to know:

  • The Kongonaphon kelylikely ate insects.
  • The thigh bones revealed the 4-inch stature was the creature’s full height.
  • Researcher John Flynn said: “This fossil site in southwestern Madagascar from a poorly known time interval globally has produced some amazing fossils, and this tiny specimen was jumbled in among the hundreds we’ve collected from the site over the years.”
  • “It took some time before we could focus on these bones, but once we did, it was clear we had something unique and worth a closer look. This is a great case for why field discoveries — combined with modern technology to analyze the fossils recovered — is still so important.”

The bigger picture:

  • According to BBC, dinosaurs and pterosaurs came from the group called ornithodira. But the origins of that group are unknown. This new creature may have been a part of the root of the group.
  • Scientists previously thought the ancestors were big, like dinosaurs. The fact that they’re small shows scientists the origins might different than we think, according to BBC News.