How much is that Asilisaurus in the window? That’s what prospective pet owners might be asking, if a newly discovered dinosaur ancestor were still alive. “It’s a lightweight, four-legged, plant-eating, scampering wonder that might have made a nice pet,” says paleontologist Paul Sereno of the University of Chicago in Illinois.
The creature’s fossilized bones should cause a rethinking about dinosaur ancestors because they suggest that dinos evolved not from two-legged carnivores but from four-legged vegetarians.
For more than a century, researchers have been looking for clues to the origins of dinosaurs. The balance of opinion has alternated between more reptilian ancestors, which walked on all fours, and two-legged animals that had bird-shaped bodies but couldn’t fly. Recently, the idea of two-legged dino ancestors had been winning out, but the new find yanks the trend back toward quadrupeds.
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