Thursday, December 10, 2009

Tawa Hits

Illustration by Jorge Gonzalez, courtesy National Science Foundation

Tawa hallae, a new Triassic theropod, hit the nets today in a big way. It's very exciting, because we have two skeletons which are pretty complete. We need more Triassic dinosaurs! This one is especially cool because of the way it fits in between Herrerasaurus and Coelophysis on the dinosaur evolutionary tree. Herrerasaurus is more like pre-dinosaur archosaurs, and for a while has existed in a fuzzy nether-region between the two, with its status as a dinosaur subject to debate. Melding the more primitive characteristics of Herrerasaurus with those of Coelophysis, Tawa shows that Herrerasaurus was a dinosaur.

The National Science Foundation has a special report on Tawa at their website with tons of information.

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