New fossils are redefining what makes a dinosaur | Science News

ADVERTISEMENT

Support Science Journalism

Science News is a nonprofit.

Support us by subscribing now.


Feature

New fossils are redefining what makes a dinosaur

Defining what’s unique about these ‘fearfully great lizards’ gets harder with new finds

By
4:00pm, February 21, 2018
dino illustration

BEASTLY BREAKOUT  Fossil finds have pushed aside old views of dinos, like the 1853 beasts in London's Crystal Palace Park (background). 

“There’s a very faint dimple here,” Sterling Nesbitt says, holding up a palm-sized fossil to the light. The fossil, a pelvic bone, belonged to a creature called Teleocrater rhadinus. The slender, 2-meter-long reptile ran on all fours and lived 245 million years ago, about 10 million to 15 million years before scientists think dinosaurs first appeared.

Nesbitt, a paleontologist at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, tilts the bone toward the overhead light, illuminating a small depression in the fossil. The dent, about the size of a thumbprint, marks the place where the leg bone fit into the pelvis. In a true dinosaur, there would be a complete hole there in the hip socket, not just a depression. The dimple is like a waving red flag: Nope, not a dinosaur.

The hole in the hip socket probably helped dinosaurs position their

This article is only available to Science News subscribers. Already a subscriber? Log in now.
Or subscribe today for full access.

Get Science News headlines by e-mail.

More from Science News

From the Nature Index Paid Content