Eocursor

Name: Eocursor ‭(‬Dawn runner‭)‬.
Phonetic: E-oh-cur-sor.
Named By: Richard J.‭ ‬Butler,‭ ‬Roger M.‭ ‬H.‭ ‬Smith‭ & ‬David B.‭ ‬Norman‭ ‬-‭ ‬2007.
Classification: Chordata,‭ ‬Reptilia,‭ ‬Dinosauria,‭ ‬Ornithischia.
Species: E.‭ ‬parvus‭ (‬type‭)‬.
Diet: Herbivore‭?
Size: About‭ ‬1‭ ‬meter long.
Known locations: South Africa‭ ‬-‭ ‬Lower Elliot Formation.
Time period: Norian of the Triassic.
Fossil representation: With the exception of the tail and ribs,‭ ‬most of the post cranial skeleton is known as well as skull fragments.

       Not only is Eocursor one of the earliest known ornithischian dinosaurs,‭ ‬it is also one of the most completely preserved,‭ ‬and for this reason the genus has become something of a benchmark when studying early ornithischian dinosaurs.‭ ‬The holotype specimen of Eocursor was of an individual approximately one meter long,‭ ‬though because of the lack of tail remains,‭ ‬this figure is based upon comparisons to other ornithischian dinosaurs.
       Though the ornithischian dinosaurs were mostly herbivorous‭ (‬plant eaters‭)‬,‭ ‬there is a little uncertainty about Eocursor.‭ ‬The teeth of the lower jaw and the maxilla‭ (‬posterior tooth bearing bone in the upper jaw‭) ‬are‭ ‬arranged in tightly packed rows and would have been great for processing plants.‭ ‬However,‭ ‬the teeth of the premaxilla‭ (‬anterior tooth bearing bone in the upper jaw‭) ‬are sharp and conical like in a meat eating dinosaur,‭ ‬and this observation coupled with the primitive nature of Eocursor have led to speculation that that it might have been an omnivore‭ (‬eating both plants and meat‭)‬.‭
       If Eocursor occasionally ate meat,‭ ‬it still was no apex predator,‭ ‬with sources of meat including everything from snatching up insects and small lizards,‭ ‬to scavenging carcasses left over from the work of true predators.‭ ‬If anything,‭ ‬Eocursor was a dinosaur that made a point to stay out of the way of predators,‭ ‬and the rear legs are a good indication of this.‭ ‬Eocursor would have been a bipedal dinosaur,‭ ‬and the lower leg bones are proportionately larger than the upper leg bones,‭ ‬a clear sign of legs that were suited for fast running.‭ ‬In fact it is this running adaptation that was part of the inspiration for the name Eocursor which means‭ ‘‬Dawn runner‭’‬.

Further reading
-‭ ‬A primitive ornithischian dinosaur from the Late Triassic of South Africa,‭ ‬and the early evolution and diversification of Ornithischia.‭ ‬-‭ ‬Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B:‭ ‬Biological Sciences‭ ‬274:2041-2046.‭ ‬-‭ ‬Richard J.‭ ‬Butler,‭ ‬Roger M.‭ ‬H.‭ ‬Smith‭ & ‬David B.‭ ‬Norman‭ ‬-‭ ‬2007.



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