"Surprisingly, early dinosaur relatives were pretty profoundly not dinosaur-like".
However, at that juncture, some crucial bone structures of the fossil were missing, such as the ankle joints.
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It lived during the Triassic period millions of years before the first dinosaurs. Found at a single site in Tanzania's Ruhuhu Basin, the remains of at least three individuals are dated to the early part of Anisian age of the middle of the Triassic, about 242 to 247 million years ago.
The fossils were excavated from the Manda Beds of southern Tanzania. It would walk on four limbs.
It had a relatively long neck like other dinosaur relatives and sharp, serrated teeth, suggesting it was a carnivore.
We're not certain what caused the animal to go extinct, but what matters most is that in theory, the creature played a role in the creation of the dinosaurs, and as such, will never be forgotten.
A report released by Nature shows that the teleocrater is believed to be the earliest-known dinosaur relative and was six feet long and had features like a crocodile. It walked on four legs rather like modern lizards. The first one evolved into crocodiles while the second group evolved into dinosaurs and birds.
"The discovery of such an important new species is a once-in-a-lifetime discovery", said lead author Sterling Nesbitt of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in a statement.
The teleocrater discovery comes in the wake of a recent phylogenetic study that challenged scientists' understanding of the order in which dinosaurs diversified. Dinosaurs and birds can only hinge their ankles in an up-and-down motion.
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More fossils were unearthed in Tanzania in 2015 that helped an global team of scientists study the 245-million-year-old species.
"It's astonishing to think that it's taken more than 80 years for the true scientific importance of these fossils to be understood and published", Dr Butler said.
The first fossils from the Teleocrater were found in 1933 in Tanzania, and they were studied in London's Natural History Museum in the 1950s. Charig died with the puzzle still missing the needed pieces.
Experts said the paper shows such dinosaur relatives were more diverse than scientists had thought.
"The discovery overturns widely-held preconceptions by palaeontologists about the morphology of early dinosaur relatives, with many scientists anticipating that such creatures would be smaller, bipedal and more 'dinosaur-like".
Dinosaurs and crocodiles share a common ancestor-a large group of reptiles called archosaurs.
The samples, along with others discovered in the same area in 2015, were reassessed by the team, which included Dr Richard Butler from the University of Birmingham.
A reconstruction of Teleocrater rhadinus feasting on a relative of early mammals. Charig could not determine whether the creature was more closely related to crocodilians or to dinosaurs, as they lacked ankles and other bones. The genus name refers to the Greek "Teleos" and "krater", which mean "complete" and "bowl", respectively - a reference to its closed hipbone socket.
Paul Barrett, from London's Natural History Museum and one of the authors of the paper, according to BBC.