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Heterodontosaurus, a close relative of Eocursor (Wikimedia Commons)


Eocursor (Greek for "dawn runner"); pronounced EE-oh-cur-sore


Woodlands of southern Africa

Historical Period:

Late Triassic (210 million years ago)

Size and Weight:

About 3 feet long and 50 pounds


Probably omnivorous

Distinguishing Characteristics:

Small size; bipedal gait


About Eocursor:

Toward the end of the Triassic period, the very first dinosaurs--as opposed to prehistoric reptiles like pelycosaurs and therapsids--spread around the world from their home base of South America. One of these, in southern Africa, was Eocursor, the counterpart of fellow progenitor dinosaurs like Herrerasaurus in South America and Coelophysis in North America. The closest relative of Eocursor was probably Heterodontosaurus, and this early dinosaur appears to lie at the root of the evolutionary branch that later gave rise to ornithischian dinosaurs, a category including both stegosaurs and ceratopsians.

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