New predator ‘Dawn runner’ discovered in early dinosaur graveyard

Steve Koppes (USA) A lanky predator roamed South America in search of prey as the age of the dinosaurs began, approximately 230Ma. This dinosaur, named Eodromaeus (the “dawn runner”), sported a long neck and tail, and weighed only 4.5kg to 6.8kg. A team of palaeontologists and geologists from Argentina and the USA announced the discovery of dawn runner in January 2011. Fig. 1. Reconstruction of Eodromaeus, by Todd Marshall. “It really is the earliest look we have at the long line of meat eaters that would ultimately culminate in Tyrannosaurus rex near the end of the dinosaur era,” said Paul Sereno, University of Chicago palaeontologist and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence. “Who could foretell what evolution had in store for the descendants of this pint-sized, fleet-footed predator?” Sereno and his colleagues described a near-complete skeleton of the new species, based on the rare discovery of two individuals found side-by-side, in the 14 January 2011 issue of the journal Science. The paper presents a new snapshot of the dawn of the dinosaur era – a key period that has garnered less attention than the dinosaurs’ demise. “It’s more complex than some had supposed,” Sereno said. Fig. 2. Dr Paul Sereno. (Photo by Mike Hettwer.) Set in picturesque foothills of the Andes, the site of the discovery is known as the “Valley of the Moon,” said the report’s lead author, Ricardo Martinez of Argentina’s National University of San Juan. For dinosaur palaeontologists, it is like no other. “Two generations of field work have generated … Read More

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