Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Eoraptor

Eoraptor lunensis
We've been learning a lot about Dinosaurs recently, though most of those lived in the Cretaceous period, not long before the big extinction event that wiped all the Dinosaurs out. Today's Dinosaur comes from the opposite end of the timeline-- it is one of the earliest known Dinosaurs, and lived nearly 230 million years ago.

Eoraptor ("Dawn Theif"), hailed from the Late Triassic. They were small, only about 3ft long in total, and walked on two legs. Their mouths were filled with teeth that could be used for both carnivorous and herbivorous diets, though their other features suggest that they leaned more towards the meat-eating side. Eoraptor also had long legs that suggest a fast moving gait, and five-fingered hands that had three long, clawed fingers, and two fingers that appear to be too small to be useful.

Eoraptor was first discovered in 1991 in Argentina, and was named in 1993. What is a dry badlands today was once a river valley, and it is in that area that the fossils were found  along with fossils of other early Dinosaurs.

We know that Eoraptor was an early Dinosaur because of the fossil location, and also because of the animal's morphology . They lacked the specialized features that appeared in later Dinosaur groups. Some think that because they are so ancient, and so non-specific in their features, that they aren't quite Dinosaurs at all. And if they are in fact Dinosaurs, as the popular opinion states, there is disagreement about whether or not they are truly Saurischian or Theropod.

Status : Extinct for 230 million years
Location : Argentina
Size : Length up to 3ft (.9m)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Reptilia -- clade : Dinosauria
Genus : †Eoraptor -- Species : †E. lunensis

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