Scientists Find Ancestor to Giant Dinosaurs

It's a link between smaller bipeds and huge quadripeds
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 12, 2009 7:23 PM CST
A cameraman and photographer record images of fossilized bones of a new dinosaur species, Aardonyx Celestae, in Johannesburg, Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2009.   (AP Photo/Denis Farrell)
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(Newser) – Paleontologists in South Africa have found a new dinosaur, a sort of missing link between smaller two-legged creatures that dined on plants and the long-necked carnivorous giants of Jurassic Park. The new species, aardonyx celestae, was 20 feet long and walked on two feet. But crucially, it was able to drop down on all fours easily, paving the way for the evolution of the full quadripeds.

The new guy had something else in common with the huge dinosaurs that would follow it: a vacuum cleaner for a mouth, National Geographic reports. Unlike other contemporary herbivores that had “cheeks” for storing food, aardonyx had a gaping mouth that allowed it to eat faster, allowing for the high food intake that would see it evolve into the biggest land animals the earth has even seen.