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Nyasasaurus parringtoni Nesbitt et al. 2013 (dinosaur)


PaleoDB taxon number: 251932

Nyasasaurus parringtoni is based upon postcranial material collected from the Middle Triassic of Tanzania. The name was first used by British palaeontologist Alan Charig in the 1960s, but was only formally published in early 2013 (appeared online in late 2012). Although fragmentary, the holotype specimen includes character states that suggest dinosaur affinities (e.g. elongated deltopectoral crest on humerus, three sacral vertebrae, histological features). If correctly identified, this would be the oldest dinosaur body fossil yet discovered, preceding other early dinosaur fossils by 10-15 million years. However, it is possible that rather than a true dinosaur, Nyasasaurus might instead represent the closest known relative of dinosaurs. Etymology: Nyasa, from Lake Nyasa near the type locality, and sauros, Greek for lizard; parringtoni, in honour of Francis Rex Parrington, collector of the holotype.

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Synonym: Thecodontosaurus alophos Haughton 1932 (taxon 68500)

Full reference: S. J. Nesbitt, P. M. Barrett, S. Werning, C. A. Sidor, and A. J. Charig. 2013. The oldest dinosaur? A Middle Triassic dinosauriform from Tanzania. Biology Letters 9(1):1-5

Belongs to Nyasasaurus according to S. J. Nesbitt et al. 2013

Sister taxa: none

Type specimens:

  • Nyasasaurus parringtoni: NHMUK R6856, a set of postcrania (Right humerus, three partial presacral vertebrae and three sacral vertebrae). Its type locality is Parrington locality B36, near Mkongoleko, which is in an Anisian terrestrial siliciclastic in the Manda Beds Formation of Tanzania.
  • Thecodontosaurus alophos: SAM-PK-K10654, a set of vertebrae (Three cervical vertebrae and two posterior presacral vertebrae). Its type locality is B27, Gingama, which is in an Anisian terrestrial horizon in the Manda Beds Formation of Tanzania.