A Dinosaur the Size of a Pencil? A New Discovery Baffles the Minds of Scientists

When you say ‘dinosaurs,’ surely you think about those giant creatures the size of buildings that were capable of savage and sadistic things. But few people know that dinosaurs can also be as small as a pencil. And no, there’s no reference to plastic figures that we all liked to play with when we were kids.

Kongonaphon kely, meaning ‘tiny bug slayer’, is the new dinosaur ancestor found by scientists in Madagascar.

The creature lived 237 million years ago

The tiny creature measured only about 10 centimeters tall, and it lived during the Triassic period on Madagascar around 237 million years ago. The ‘tiny bug slayer’ belonged to the ancient group Ornithodira.

Christian Kammerer from the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences confirmed the obvious:

There’s a general perception of dinosaurs as being giants,

But this new animal is very close to the divergence of dinosaurs and pterosaurs, and it’s shockingly small.

Kongonaphon kely is the smallest known species from a family of early dinosauromorphs that are called Lagerpetidae.

The research team further explained:

Although dinosaurs and gigantism are practically synonymous, an analysis of body size evolution in dinosaurs and other archosaurs in the context of this taxon and related forms demonstrates that the earliest-diverging members of the group may have been smaller than previously thought, and that a profound miniaturisation event occurred near the base of the avian stem lineage

There were around 700 known species of dinosaurs existing on Earth until the mass extinction caused by the Chicxulub impactor about 60 million years ago. Landing on today’s Yucatan Peninsula from Mexico, the asteroid or whatever celestial body it was measured 11 to 81 kilometers (7 to 50 mi) in diameter and had a mass between 1.0×1015 and 4.6×1017 kg. The impactor’s crater measures over 150 kilometers (93 miles) in diameter, meaning one of the largest impact craters on Earth.

The new discovery of Kongonaphon kely was reported in PNAS.

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