JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — A newly discovered dinosaur species that roamed the Earth about 200 million years ago may help explain how the creatures evolved into the largest animals on land, scientists in South Africa said Wednesday.
The Aardonyx celestae was a small-headed herbivore with huge barrel of a chest, and the scientists said it could prove to be a missing evolutionary link.
"This is definitely without a shadow of a doubt a brand new type of dinosaur -- one that no one has seen before and one that has a very significant position in the family tree of dinosaurs," said Australian paleontologist Adam Yates.
Yates, who is based at the University of the Witwatersrand's Bernard Price Institute for Paleontological Research, led the research with a number of other local and international scientists.
Their findings were published Wednesday in the Proceedings of The Royal Society B, a London-based peer-reviewed journal.
The Aardonyx celestae walked on its hind legs but could drop to all fours and stood about 1.7 metres high at the hip, the scientists said. It was about 10 years old when it died and weighed about 500 kilograms. Its death may have been caused by drought.
Will the missing link be the final suolution or just another piece of the puzzle ?