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Fossil of oldest two-legged reptile found in Germany
.c Kyodo News Service
WASHINGTON, Nov. 2 (Kyodo) - A fossil dating back 290 million years and
believed to be of the oldest two-legged reptile has been found in central
Germany, the U.S. journal Science said in its Friday issue.
The journal said the well-preserved fossil, found in a quarry by a team of
researchers from the United States, Canada and Germany, is an almost
perfectly complete skeleton of the ancient running reptile, which appears to
have walked on two legs long before the age of dinosaurs.
Scientists have believed that dinosaurs are the first creatures to have
walked on land on two legs, but the fossil discovered in central Germany,
named Eudibamus cursoris, seems to indicate otherwise.
The fossil, just 26.1 centimeters long, dates to over 60 million years before
the emergence of dinosaurs, the oldest known member of the Parareptilia group
of primitive reptiles.
The skeletal features of the Eudibamus fossil ''suggest that the reptile
could move swiftly on two legs, probably up on its toes, using an upright
posture with the limbs movinged the running posture of human beings, it said.
The researchers who found the fossil said evidence of bipedal abilities in
the reptile can be seen in analyzing the arrangement of the hip, knee and
ankle joints in its lower limbs.
The reptile also had unusually long feet and tail, while its upper limbs were
relatively short for its overall size and its lower limbs relatively long.
The researchers said they believe Eudibamus was a herbivore but probably
needed to run fast to flee from carnivorous predators. Edibamus apparently
became extinct toward the end of the Permian period 250 million years ago,
according to the researchers.