Named By: Sterling J. Nesbitt, Paul M. Barrett, Sarah Werning, Christian A. Sidor & Alan J. Charig - 2013.
Synonyms: Thecodontosaurus alophos.
Classification: Chordata, Reptilia, Dinosauriformes.
Species: N. parringtoni (type).
Size: Up to about 3 meters long.
Known locations: Tanzania - Manda Formation.
Time period: Anisian of the Triassic.
Fossil representation: Partial post cranial skeleton including vertebrae, and right humerus.
Nyasasaurus made headlines all around the world when it was discovered, because this genus might just represent the oldest dinosaur so far discovered. Nyasasaurus has the right number of sacral vertebrae expected, and the humerus does display rapid growth patterns just like those known from other dinosaur genera. Unfortunately, the overall incompleteness of the Nyasasaurus holotype means that it is impossible to be certain if it actually is a dinosaur. If not, then Nyasasaurus would still be a reptile that came very close to actually being one. Future discoveries will likely shed more light upon exactly when and how dinosaurs finally split from their archosaur ancestors.
- The oldest dinosaur? A Middle Triassic dinosauriform from Tanzania, Sterling J. Nesbitt, Paul M. Barrett, Sarah Werning, Christian A. Sidor & Alan J. Charig - 2013.