World's oldest dinosaur discovered in drawer

A set of fossilised bones kept for more than half a century in the dusty storerooms of the Natural History Museum in London have turned out to have belonged to the earliest known dinosaur to roam the land.

Scientists have confirmed that the fossils, which were first unearthed in the 1930s in Tanzania, are those of a Labrador-sized dinosaur that lived at least 10 to 15 million years earlier than the previous oldest-known dinosaur.

They have named the extinct species Nyasasaurus parringtoni after Africa's Lake Nyasa, now called Lake Malawi, and Cambridge University's Rex Parrington, a palaeontologist who discovered the fossils in East Africa. Parrington handed over the rocks and fossilised bones to his PhD student, Alan Charig, who was still working on the project at the Natural History Museum when he died in 1997. The fossils were stored away again until they were re-examined by a team from Britain and the US.

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