A dwarf-like dinosaur found more than two decades ago in the sandstone basin in southern Madagascar may have provided clues about the origins of the dinosaurs, including how pterosaurs learned to fly and why they could be covered by “hairy” skin coverings such as feathers,media reported. The study, published Monday in proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, describes the first discovery of a collection of 237 million-year-old reptile fossils known as Kongonaphon kely.
It takes its name from Madagascar’s Malagasy and ancient Greek languages, meaning “little bug killer”. It was found in the Morondava Basin, a grey sandstone basin in southern Madagascar, which is shorter than an iPhone and is about 4 inches tall.
The animals are known to be classified as ancestral dragons — a common ancestor of dinosaurs and pterosaurs — and provide valuable clues to their early evolution.
“Dinosaurs are generally considered to be behemoths,” Christian Kammerer, a paleontologist at the Museum of Natural Sciences in North Carolina, said in a press release. “
By studying fossil samples, the team learned about the early evolution of the ancestral dragons, and the evidence seems to suggest that they began to shrink when dinosaurs and pterosaurs first appeared. The teeth of the newly unearthed creature also led the team to conclude that it may be insects. As such a small reptile, of course, this makes sense.
According to the researchers, the shrinking size may also have contributed to the evolutionary success of dinosaurs and pterosaurs. Miniaturization makes it harder to keep warm, and for this reason, the team has come up with the assumption that The feathery, furry skin cover that Kongonaphon has may be used to keep warm. In addition, previous studies have shown that miniaturization may be a necessary prerequisite for dynamic flight.
Kongonaphon may have opened a window for palaeontologists to learn about prehistoric dinosaurs and pterosaurs, and it may reveal how these animals ruled the Earth in the middle of the Triassic period some 230 million years ago.