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The 6 Oldest Dinosaurs Discovered in the World

Dec. 08, 2022

Dinosaurs have captured the imagination of people since they were first discovered in the early 1800s and are among the most popular ancient animals on Earth. Thanks to their popularity, dinosaurs have become the stars of many books, movies, games and other popular media. However, cataloging the true history of dinosaurs is much more difficult.


Although several dinosaur fossils have been discovered in the last 200 years or so, they paint an incomplete picture. The first true dinosaurs appeared in the late Middle Triassic and evolved in a single lineage of sauropods, whose extant descendants are birds and crocodiles.


The age of the dinosaurs on this list is only an estimate, and although it appears that they all lived at the same time, it is likely that these dinosaurs were separated by long time spans due to the concept known as temporal averaging.


Herrerasaurus ischigualastensis


Herrerasaurus ischigualastensis



1. Nyasasaurus parringtoni 


Nyasasaurus parringtoni lived about 243 million years ago during the Middle Triassic period and is the oldest known dinosaur in the world. a single upper arm bone and some dorsal bones of Nyasasaurus parringtoni were first discovered in Tanzania. In about 2012, scientists announced that Nyasasaurus parringtoni was about 243 million years old, about 10 to 15 million years older than the oldest previously known dinosaur. Scientists say Nyasasaurus parringtoni is the earliest known dinosaur, or the closest known relative to the first true dinosaurs.


Very little is known about Nyasasaurus parringtoni because of the small fossil collection. Based on the skeleton, scientists estimate it was 6.5 to 10 feet (2 to 3 meters) long, including its tail. Scientists also believe Nyasasaurus parringtoni may have been bipedal.


2. Chindesaurus



Chindesaurus is one of the oldest known dinosaurs, dating back to the Late Triassic period, about 235 to 210 million years ago. It is part of the Herrerasaurids dinosaurs, and the family Herrerosaurids is one of the earliest dinosaurs ever discovered. Like other early dinosaurs, Chindesaurus was relatively small (2 to 2.3 meters long), bipedal, and carnivorous.


This dinosaur was discovered in 1984 in the southwestern United States. The first specimen was named "Gertie" after the dinosaur Gertie. There are about six incomplete specimens of Chindesaurus. 3.


3. Staurikosaurus


Staurikosaurus is another genus of Herrerasaurids dinosaurs, and they are one of the earliest true dinosaurs ever discovered. This dinosaur is about 233.23 million years old and comes from the Santa Maria Formation of what is now the Paleorrota Geopark in Brazil.


Staurikosaurus was very small, measuring about 2.25 meters long, 80 centimeters tall, and weighing 30 kilograms. Most specimens of Staurikosaurus are incomplete, mainly fragments of its spine, legs and jaws are present. However, researchers have been able to reconstruct Staurikosaurus because it is a primitive, non-specialized dinosaur. Since scientists have a complete understanding of its legs, they believe that for its size, Staurikosaurus was a fast runner and an active predator.


Chindesaurus


Chindesaurus


4. Saturnalia tupiniquim


Saturnalia tupiniquim is a primitive dinosaur with a mix of lizard-footed and theropod dinosaurs that also lived during the Late Triassic period, about 233.23 million years ago. This makes classification difficult, but scientists now consider it to be a member of the lizard-footed root system rather than a true member of the group. Unlike its famous giant herbivorous descendants (such as Brontosaurus, Brachiosaurus, and Leontosaurus), Agamosaurus was small (about 1.5 meters long) and carnivorous.


Saturnalia tupiniquim, although very different from the later true lizard-footed dinosaurs, was very similar in size to these later dinosaurs. The neck of Agamosaurus was longer than that of other early dinosaurs, which is one of the signature features of lizard-footed dinosaurs. Most of the specimens were found in the Santa Maria Formation of the Paleorrota Geopark in Brazil, but a partial femur was found in Zimbabwe. This provides evidence that South America and Africa were once connected.


5. Herrerasaurus ischigualastensis


Herrerasaurus ischigualastensis is a member of the Herrerasaurids which are approximately 231.4 million years old. They were the first true dinosaurs. Herrerasaurus was first discovered in northwestern Argentina in 1959, and over the next few decades, only fragmentary fossils were found. This made classification difficult, and scientists were unsure whether it was an early theropod or an early lizard-footed dinosaur.


In 1998, an almost complete specimen was found, and Herrerasaurus ischigualastensis is now considered the most primitive member of the suborder Theropoda, the direct ancestors of modern birds.


Compared to other early dinosaurs, Herrerasaurus ischigualastensis was quite large - some of the larger specimens were about 6 m in total length and weighed about 350 kg. Because of its early position in the dinosaur evolutionary tree, Herrerasurus has features that distinguish it from later dinosaurs, particularly the shape of its hips and leg bones.


6. Eodromaeus


Eodromaeus was first discovered in Argentina in 1996, however, it was not named and described until 2011. It lived approximately 231.4 - 229 million years ago in the Late Triassic and was initially thought to be a new species of another early dinosaur, Archosaurus. After further research, Eodromaeus was determined to be a new dinosaur. Its discovery adds to the diversity of the first dinosaurs and may provide new insights into the early history of dinosaurs.


Eodromaeus was relatively small, measuring about 1.2 meters in total length from nose to tail and weighing about 5 kg. It is thought to be one of the earliest carnivorous members of carnivores that eventually led to Tyrannosaurus rex. According to some researchers, Eodromaeus may be closely related to the as-yet-undiscovered "Eve" or the mother of all dinosaurs.


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