The Kongonaphon kely, which means “little bug slayer”, was a dinosaur approximately the size of a coffee cup. Regardless, its impact on the ecosystem as a whole is a lot bigger than a mundane coffee cup. The little bug slayer lived on the island of Madagascar about 237 million years ago. That was during the Triassic period, known for being dominated by dinosaurs of all shapes and sizes. This peculiar animal stood at a mere 10 centimeters tall, but is part of the Ornithodira group, which is the last common ancestor of all the dinosaurs and pterosaurs out there. The pterosaurs are the group that eventually ended up dominating the world after the bug slayer disappeared.
Christian Kammerer, a palaeontologist affiliated with the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, explained that most people believe that dinosaurs were enormous beings, but that is not always the case. For example, the little bug slayer is shockingly close to the divergence between dinosaurs and pterosaurs, being incredibly small.
Of course, the question that remains is how creatures of such an incredible size were able to evolve from surprising origins. For now, we do not know for sure, as very few specimens from the Ornithodira lineage have been comprehensively studied. For that exact reason, the fossils of the little bug slayer are highly important. These have been the first found during excavation on a site in 1998 in southwestern Madagascar. After the bug slayer was found, hundreds of other fossils followed.
John Flynn, a palaeontologist affiliated with the American Museum of Natural History, explained that the researchers needed some time before their work permitted them to actually intensively study the bones of the tiny bug slayer. However, once they could do that, it was obvious to them that with the little bug slayer they stumbled upon something unique.