Fossils reveal dinosaur forerunner smaller than a cellphone

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This illustration provided by Alex Boersma in July 2020 depicts a Kongonaphon kely, a tiny relative of dinosaurs and pterosaurs. Kongonaphon lived roughly 237 million years ago and would have stood only 10 centimeters (4 inches) tall. (Alex Boersma via AP)

(AP) – Meet Kongonaphon kely, a pocket sized dinosaur forerunner that was smaller than your cellphone.

The creature, which predated dinosaurs and flying pterosaurs, was just shy of 4 inches (10 centimeters) tall, according to a study published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

This illustration provided by the American Museum of Natural History in July 2020 depicts a Kongonaphon kely, a newly described reptile near the ancestry of dinosaurs and pterosaurs, shown to scale with human hands. Kongonaphon lived roughly 237 million years ago. (Frank Ippolito/American Museum of Natural History)

“Some of these things would have been quite cute animals,” said study lead author Christian Kammerer, a paleontology researcher at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. Looking like small dinosaur that could fit in your hand, Kammerer mused that it “would probably make a great pet.”

Of course, no humans were around when Kongonaphon was roaming the wild, jumping around with its strong hind legs and feeding on bugs with its peg-like teeth, Kammerer said. The name means tiny bug slayer.

The fossils, dug up in Madagascar, date from 237 million years ago. Scientists figure the little guy was an adult because of growth rings in its bones, Kammerer said.

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