Researchers have discovered a new ancient relative of the dinosaurs that 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 kely likely 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.