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Fossils reveal dinosaur forerunner smaller than a cellphone

Jul 7, 2020, 5:51 AM | Updated: 5:53 am
This illustration provided by the American Museum of Natural History in July 2020 depicts a Kongona...
This illustration provided by the American Museum of Natural History in July 2020 depicts a Kongonaphon kely, a newly described reptile near the ancestry of dinosaurs and pterosaurs, shown to scale with human hands. Kongonaphon lived roughly 237 million years ago. (Frank Ippolito/American Museum of Natural History)
(Frank Ippolito/American Museum of Natural History)

Meet Kongonaphon kely, a pocket sized dinosaur forerunner that was smaller than your cellphone.

The creature, which predated dinosaurs and flying pterosaurs, was just shy of 4 inches (10 centimeters) tall, according to a study published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“Some of these things would have been quite cute animals,” said study lead author Christian Kammerer, a paleontology researcher at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. Looking like a small dinosaur that could fit in your hand, Kammerer mused that it “would probably make a great pet.”

Of course, no humans were around when Kongonaphon was roaming the wild, jumping around with its strong hind legs and feeding on bugs with its peg-like teeth, Kammerer said. The name means tiny bug slayer.

The fossils, dug up in Madagascar, date from 237 million years ago. Scientists figure the little guy was an adult because of growth rings in its bones, Kammerer said.

___

The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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