BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: Sci/Tech
Front Page 
World 
UK 
UK Politics 
Business 
Sci/Tech 
Health 
Education 
Entertainment 
Talking Point 
In Depth 
AudioVideo 

Saturday, 26 May, 2001, 09:20 GMT 10:20 UK
'Oldest dinosaur' fossil discovery
Reconstruction of the skeleton of a dog-sized dinosaur believed to be a T rex ancestor, found in Brazil
An ancestor of T rex was discovered in northeastern Brazil
By Tom Gibb in Brazil

Palaeontologists in Brazil say they may have found the oldest known dinosaur fossil, in the south of the country.

The fossils of the creature could provide important clues as to how the dinosaurs evolved.

The newly-discovered creature had a pointed head of about 30 centimetres (12 inches) and was more than two metres (6.5 feet) long. It had the sharp teeth of a carnivore.


The fossils - which include two skulls and other bones - date back to the high Triassic period, between 235 and 240 million years ago, when the dinosaurs were first developing from older reptiles called Thecodonts.

It is a period of evolution about which there is little evidence and which has generated sharp debate among palaeontologists.

Evolutionary link

The Thecodonts, which moved on all fours, were the direct ancestors of crocodiles, but they were replaced by the faster and more agile dinosaurs.

The new find appears to have some characteristics of the Thecodonts and some of the dinosaur, and so may offer vital clues as to the evolutionary chain.

It was found in Rio Grande de Sul province, in southern Brazil, by a team led by palaeontologist Jorge Ferigolo.

He says he expects to publish his first findings of it within a year, although the studies will continue for much longer.

It is no surprise that the find should have been made in this part of South America.

Brazil and northern Argentina have long provided some the best dinosaur finds.

The area is a treasure trove for dinosaur fossils - last year palaeontologists found another of the oldest dinosaurs yet discovered, a direct ancestor of the Tyrannosaurus rex.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
BBC RADIO NEWS
BBC ONE TV NEWS
WORLD NEWS SUMMARY
PROGRAMMES GUIDE
See also:

25 Apr 01 | Sci/Tech
Dinosaur was covered in feathers
24 Jan 01 | Sci/Tech
Dinosaur honour for Dire Straits
15 Nov 00 | Entertainment
Dinosaur for Jurassic author
10 Oct 00 | Sci/Tech
Dig pulls up five T. rex specimens
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Sci/Tech stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Sci/Tech stories