Eocursor (meaning "dawn runner") was a primitive genus of dinosaur. It was an ornithischian which lived in what is now South Africa. Remains of this animal have been found in the Lower Elliot Formation and might be the most complete known from a Triassic ornithischian, shedding new light on the origin of this group.
The exact age of this taxon is uncertain. It was originally interprereted as living during the Late Triassic (Norian age), around 210 million years ago; however, Olsen, Kent & Whiteside (2010) stated that there is no independent geochronological support for its assumed age, and the available data makes it impossible to conclusively determine whether Eocursor is of Triassic or Early Jurassic (potentially as young as Sinemurian) age. Eocursor was subsequently interpreted as a taxon of Early Jurassic age by Mcphee et al. (2017).
Fossils of Eocursor were originally collected in 1993, but were not formally described until fourteen years later. The type species, Eocursor parvus, was described in 2007 by Richard J. Butler, Roger M. H. Smith, and David B. Norman. Eocursor was one of the earliest known ornithischians, and sheds some light on early dinosaur relationships because early dinosaurs are known from mostly incomplete skeletons. Eocursor is known from partial skeletal elements, including skull fragments, spinal elements, pelvis, long leg bones, and unusually large grasping hands.
Butler, Smith & Norman, 2007
Butler, Smith & Norman, 2007
Eocursor was a lightly built bipedal dinosaur with an estimated length of about 1 m (3 ft). The general aspect of the animal resembles that of the early Jurassic ornithischians such as Lesothosaurus and Scutellosaurus. Its large hands resembled those of the Heterodontosauridae, a clade of primitive ornithischians. The morphology of the triangular teeth, not unlike those of an iguana, suggests partial herbivory. The tibia was significantly longer than the femur, indicating it was a swift runner.
In 1993, the holotype specimen of Eocursor (SAM-PK-K8025) was collected from the Lower Elliot Formation in Free State, South Africa. The skeleton, although only partially complete, is one of the best-preserved early ornithischian skeletons ever found. The fossils include a partial skeleton: portions of the skull, lower jaw, vertebrae, and limbs.
In June 2007, the fossils were formally described by an international team of paleontologists: Richard Butler of the Natural History Museum, London, and the University of Cambridge, David Norman of the University of Cambridge, and Roger M. H. Smith of the Iziko South African Museum. The fossils were named Eocursor parvus, from the Greek word eos (meaning "dawn"), and the Latin words cursor (meaning "runner") and parvus ("little"), "in reference to the early occurrence of this ornithischian, its apparent locomotory abilities and its small size."
Eocursor was an early ornithischian, one of the first so-called "bird-hipped" dinosaurs, a group which would eventually give rise to animals such as Stegosaurus, Triceratops, and Iguanodon. Butler et al. consider Eocursor more primitive than Lesothosaurus and Heterodontosauridae, but more derived than the Pisanosaurus, as a basal ornithischian forming a sister clade of Genasauria.
Albertadromeus is an extinct genus of orodromine parksosaurid dinosaur known from the upper part of the Late Cretaceous Oldman Formation (middle Campanian stage) of Alberta, Canada. It contains a single species, Albertadromeus syntarsus.Averostra
Averostra, or "bird snouts", is a clade that includes most theropod dinosaurs that have a promaxillary fenestra (fenestra promaxillaris), an extra opening in the front outer side of the maxilla, the bone that makes up the upper jaw. Two groups of averostrans, the Ceratosauria and the Orionides, survived into the Cretaceous period. When the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event occurred, ceratosaurians and two groups of orionideans within the clade Coelurosauria, the Tyrannosauroidea and Maniraptoriformes, were still extant. Only one subgroup of maniraptoriformes, Aves, survived the extinction event and persisted to the present day.Avetheropoda
Avetheropoda, or "bird theropods", is a clade that includes carnosaurians and coelurosaurs to the exclusion of other dinosaurs.Cerapoda
Cerapoda ("ceratopsians and ornithopods") is a clade of the dinosaur order Ornithischia.Dinosauriformes
Dinosauriformes is a clade of archosaurian reptiles that include the dinosaurs and their most immediate relatives. All dinosauriformes are distinguished by several features, such as shortened forelimbs and a partially to fully perforated acetabulum, the hole in the hip socket traditionally used to define dinosaurs. The oldest known member is Asilisaurus, dating to about 245 million years ago in the Anisian age of the middle Triassic period.Haya griva
Haya is an extinct genus of basal neornithischian dinosaur known from Mongolia.Jeholosauridae
Jeholosaurids were herbivorous neornithischian dinosaurs from the Cretaceous Period (Aptian - Santonian, with a possible Campanian record) of Asia. The family was first proposed by Han et al. in 2012. The jeholosaurids were defined as those ornithischians more closely related to Jeholosaurus shangyuanensis than to Hypsilophodon foxii, Iguanodon bernissartensis, Protoceratops andrewsi, Pachycephalosaurus wyomingensis, or Thescelosaurus neglectus. The Jeholosauridae includes the type genus Jeholosaurus and Yueosaurus.Jingshanosaurus
Jingshanosaurus (meaning "Jingshan lizard") is a genus of sauropodomorph dinosaurs from the early Jurassic period.Manidens
Manidens is a genus of heterodontosaurid dinosaur from the Middle Jurassic of Patagonia. Fossils have been found in the Cañadón Asfalto Formation in Chubut Province, Argentina, dating to the Bajocian.Melanorosauridae
The Melanorosauridae were a family of sauropodomorph dinosaurs which lived during the Late Triassic and Early Jurassic. The name Melanorosauridae was first coined by Friedrich von Huene in 1929. Huene assigned several families of dinosaurs to the infraorder "Prosauropoda": the Anchisauridae, the Plateosauridae, the Thecodontosauridae, and the Melanorosauridae. Since then, these families have undergone numerous revisions. Galton and Upchurch (2004) considered Camelotia, Lessemsaurus, and Melanorosaurus members of the family Melanorosauridae. A more recent study by Yates (2007) indicates that the melanorosaurids were instead early sauropods.Neotheropoda
Neotheropoda (meaning "new theropods") is a clade that includes coelophysoids and more advanced theropod dinosaurs, and the only group of theropods who survived the Triassic–Jurassic extinction event. Yet all of the neotheropods became extinct during the early Jurassic period except for Averostra.Norian
The Norian is a division of the Triassic geological period. It has the rank of an age (geochronology) or stage (chronostratigraphy). The Norian lasted from ~227 to 208.5 million years ago. It was preceded by the Carnian and succeeded by the Rhaetian.Orionides
Orionides is a clade of tetanuran theropod dinosaurs from the Middle Jurassic to the Present. The clade includes most theropod dinosaurs, including birds.Ornithischia
Ornithischia () is an extinct clade of mainly herbivorous dinosaurs characterized by a pelvic structure similar to that of birds. The name Ornithischia, or "bird-hipped", reflects this similarity and is derived from the Greek stem ornith- (ὀρνιθ-), meaning "of a bird", and ischion (ἴσχιον), plural ischia, meaning "hip joint". However, birds are only distantly related to this group as birds are theropod dinosaurs.Ornithischians with well known anatomical adaptations include the ceratopsians or "horn-faced" dinosaurs (e.g. Triceratops), armored dinosaurs (Thyreophora) such as stegosaurs and ankylosaurs, pachycephalosaurids and the ornithopods. There is strong evidence that certain groups of ornithischians lived in herds, often segregated by age group, with juveniles forming their own flocks separate from adults. Some were at least partially covered in filamentous (hair- or feather- like) pelts, and there is much debate over whether these filaments found in specimens of Tianyulong, Psittacosaurus, and Kulindadromeus may have been primitive feathers.Orodrominae
Orodrominae is a subfamily of parksosaurid dinosaurs from the Cretaceous of North America and Asia.Raeticodactylidae
Raeticodactylidae is a family of eudimorphodontoid eopterosaurian pterosaurs that lived in Switzerland during the Late Triassic. The family includes Caviramus, and the type genus Raeticodactylus, which are both known from the Kössen Formation, around 205 mya. Raeticodactylidae was first used in 2014 by Andres et al., as a group of all pterosaurs closer to Raeticodactylus than Eudimorphodon. The following phylogenetic analysis follows the topology of Andres et al. (2014).Riojasauridae
Riojasauridae is a family of sauropod-like dinosaurs from the Upper Triassic. It is known primarily from the genera Riojasaurus and Eucnemesaurus. Sites containing Riojasauridae include the Lower Elliot Formation of Orange Free State, South Africa (where fossils of Eucnemesaurus have been found), and Ischigualasto, in La Rioja Province, Argentina ( where fossils of Riojasaurus have been recovered).Xixiposaurus
Xixiposaurus is a genus of prosauropod dinosaur which existed in what is now Lower Lufeng Formation, China during the lower Jurassic period. It was first named by Sekiya Toru in 2010 and the type species is Xixiposaurus suni.Yueosaurus
Yueosaurus is an extinct genus of basal ornithopod dinosaur known from Zhejiang Province, China.