Anna Gragert
September 22, 2015 1:08 pm

So… it turns out that prehistoric, reptile cows were a thing.

Recently, Brown University researchers finished studying the bones of a Bunostegos akokanensis (“Buno” for short, since this is definitely a mouthful). 260 million years ago, this creature walked the Earth on all fours, which was a huge accomplishment back then! So huge that this cow-like being was the very first animal to do so.

“Imagine a cow-sized, plant-eating reptile with a knobby skull and bony armor down its back,” explained the study’s co-author Linda Tsuji. Well… Buno may not look like the black-and-white cows we know and love today, but we bet this creature was still quite adorable.

During Buno’s time, most pareiasaurs (a fancy name for prehistoric reptiles) were “sprawlers.” A sprawler was a creature that scurried along the ground with its limbs jutting out from the side of its body (like today’s lizards). As for Buno, this species stood out because it could, well, literally stand up. It was able to sustain an upright posture, even though its limbs were similar to a sprawler’s appendages. “The elements and features within the forelimb bones won’t allow a sprawling posture – that is unique,” stated Morgan Turner, the study’s lead author.

Upon closer examination, Turner learned that a Buno’s limbs weren’t 100% identical to those of a true sprawler. Instead of having bones twisted to the outside of its body, Buno’s bones were just below its core. Its shoulder joints also prevented its humerus bone from jutting away from the body. In other words, this is what allowed Buno to earn 1st place in Standing Up On All Fours.

Aside from being a prehistoric cow, Buno is unique in one other respect: this creature has demonstrated that evolution is a highly impressive process.

[Images via Twitter]

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