Enormous 20,000-pound 'rhino elephant' roamed the Triassic



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210 million years ago, with its weight of 9,000 kg (19,841 lbs.) Making it the largest four-legged non-dinosaur to have inhabited the Triassic period .

Suggesting that this mammalian ancestor was able to survive during the era when dinosaurs had become dominant.

Publishing in the influential Science journal, the team of Swedish and Polish paleontologists report that they have excluded undiscovered species, which they've named Lisowicia bojani (after the Polish village in which they were found).

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The Lisowicia bojani a group of pre-historic animals known as dicododonts, which were plant-eating reptiles, which are the most common ancestors of the Earth today (including humans).

Previously, it was believed that the demo group first came out around 252 million years ago and began dying out in the Late Triassic, when dinosaurs started Becoming the dominant group.

However, the team was able to find between 210 and 205 million years ago, making it 10 million years younger than previously discovered dicynodont samples.

Interestingly, the fossils the United Nations team would have had an animal that weighed around 9,000 kg, was 4.5 meters long, and 2.5 meters tall.

Not only is this 40% heavier than any previously found coded, but as Uppsala University's Dr. Grzegorz Niedzwiedzki explains, it puts the Lisowicia bojani in the same league as as the dinosaurs.

"Dicynodonts were very successful in the Middle and Late Triassic," he says.

"Lisowicia is the youngest synod and the largest non-dinosaur terrestrial tetrapod from the Triassic. It is natural to want to know how to make it so large. Lisowicia is great exciting because it blows holes in many of our classic ideas of Triassic mammal-like 'reptiles.'

But only written up today, the excavation of the Lisowicia bojani in Poland reveals for the first time mammal-like dicynodonts lived at the same time as the sauropodomorph group of dinosaurs, which includes the Diplodocus and Brachiosaurus species.

And for those interested in evolution, the excellence also proves that some anatomical features of mammals – such as right limbs – were also present among dicynodonts and similar herbivorous reptiles.

It is a significant finding, one that forces prehistorians and paleontologists to revise their theories on the Earth's Triassic period and on the evolution of mammals.

As co-author Dr. Tomasz Sulej concludes, "The discovery of an important new species is once in a lifetime discovery."

This story originally appeared in The Sun.

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