A giant, herbivorous creature with a beautifull mouth and reptile crew may have sprung the earth during the late triass period more than 200 million years ago, researchers said Thursday.
In a paper published Thursday by the journal Science, Polish researchers argue that their discoveries disappear the thought that the only giant plants at that time were dinosaurs.
The elephant-shaped creature, called Lisowicia BojaniAfter a city in southern Poland where its remnants were found, it heard the same evolutionary branch as a mammal.
Similar fossils from so-called dicynodons have been found elsewhere, but they were dated to be from an earlier period before a series of natural disasters wiped out most species on Earth.
Development of gigantism
"We used to think that after the end of Permian extinction, mammals and their relatives returned to the shadows while the dinosaurs rose and grown to large sizes," said Grzegorz Niedzwiedzki, a paleontologist at Uppsala University in Sweden, as co-author of the paper.
The discovery of giant dicynodons living at the same time as sauropods – a branch of the dinosaur family that later produced the iconic long-necked diplodic focus – suggests that environmental factors in the late triumphs may have pushed the development of gigantism, researchers said.
Christian Kammerer, a dicynodontist at the North Carolina Natural Sciences Faculty, who was not involved in the search, said that Lisowica's size was "startling".
"Great dicynodonts have previously been known in both Permian and Trias, but never on this scale," he said.
Kammerer said that while dicynodons and dinosaurs existed at the same time, there is no evidence yet that they lived in the same habitats. He also questioned the study's conclusions about Lisowica's attitude
But overall, I think this is a very exciting and important paper and shows us that there is still much left to learn about early mammals in Trias, says Kammerer.