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Rhynchosaurs (meaning "beaked lizards") were a group of unusual herbivorous quadrupedal archosauromorphs that lived during the Triassic period. Rhynchosaurs ranged in size from the 50 cm long Rhynchosaurus to the 2 meter (6 feet) long Hyperodapedon, with the average size being 1 meter (3.3 feet). Rhynchosaurs were a widespread and worldwide taxon, being found all across the supercontinent of Pangaea. Rhynchosaur fossils have been found in Britain, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Madagascar, India, Brazil, Argentina, Canada and the United States, although they are poorly represented in the Northern Hemisphere fossil record. 15 species are currently regarded as valid, and another five are valid taxa still in need of a name. In some fossil assemblages, several taxa lived alongside one another, as evidenced by the four contemporaneous species were contemporaneous in the Upper Triassic Santa Maria Formation of Brazil. Rhynchosaurs went extinct during the Permian-Triassic extinction event that marked the end of the Carnian stage of the Late Triassic. Rhynchosaur fossils are very abundant in some assemblages (in some fossil localities accounting for 40 to 60% of specimens found) and the anatomy and ontogeny of a few species is comparatively well known. Early primitive forms like Mesosuchus and Howesia were more typically lizard-like in build, and had skulls rather similar to the early diapsid Younginia, except for the beak and a few other features. (Read more...)

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Paul Sereno2

Paul Sereno is an American paleontologist who is the discoverer of several new dinosaur species on several continents. He has conducted excavations at sites as varied as Inner Mongolia, Argentina, Morocco and Niger. He is a professor at the University of Chicago and a National Geographic "explorer-in-residence." Sereno's most widely publicized discovery is that of a nearly complete specimen of Sarcosuchus imperator (popularly known as SuperCroc) at Gadoufaoua in the Tenere desert of Niger. Other major discoveries include Eoraptor - the oldest known dinosaur fossil, Jobaria, the first good skull of Carcharodontosaurus iguidensis, Afrovenator, Suchomimus and the African pterosaur. (Read more...)

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"The utility [of the sail] is difficult to imagine. Unless the animal had aquatic habits and swam on its back, the crest or fin must have been in the way of active movements."
Edward Drinker Cope, 1886, in the American Naturalist, "The Long-Spined Theromorpha of the Permian Epoch", in which he described his idea as to the purpose of Dimetrodon's sail.

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Tianyulong 1

Tianyulong (named for the Shandong Tianyu Museum of Nature where the holotype fossil (STMN 26-3) is housed) is a genus of basal heterodontosaurid ornithischian dinosaur. The fossil represents a sub-adult individual, approximately 1 meter long. It is notable for the row of long, filamentous integumentary structures apparent on the back, tail and neck of the fossil. The similarity of these structures with those found on some derived theropods suggests their homology with feathers and raises the possibility that the earliest dinosaurs and their ancestors were covered with analogous dermal filamentous structures that can be considered as primitive feathers (proto-feathers).

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