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Why Scientists Are Excited

Why scientists are excited about this early dino cousin with croc-like features.

(CNN)Everyone knows that ancient monsters walk among us — alligators, crocodiles and birds all have characteristics that date back millions and millions of years. But a newly indentified dino cousin may shake up the prehistoric family tree.

The findings were published this week in Nature, an international scientific journal, and they concern the Teleocrater, the earliest-known dinosaur relative.

The Teleocrater was a six-foot-long lizard-like creature that kind of looked like a crocodile. That seems pretty run-of-the-mill, but the Teleocrater is special because it was around before dinosaurs even properly existed, which means it may change the way paleontologists think about how dinosaurs evolved.

Follow us here: Dinosaurs actually belonged to a larger group called archosaurs, which also includes birds, flying reptiles and crocodilians. Paleontologists believe that archosaurs split into two groups and then rapidly evolved: One group became>>

CREDIT:AJ Willingham, CNN

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