Pisanosaurus (meaning "Pisano lizard") is a genus of primitive ornithischian dinosaur from the Late Triassic of what is now South America. It was a bipedal herbivore described by Argentine paleontologist Rodolfo Casamiquela in 1967. Only one species, the type, Pisanosaurus mertii, is known, based on one partially complete skeleton. The fossils were discovered in Argentina's Late Triassic Ischigualasto Formation, from around 228 to 216.5 million years ago.
The exact classification of Pisanosaurus has been the topic of debate by scientists for over 40 years; the current consensus is that Pisanosaurus is the oldest known ornithischian, part of a diverse group of dinosaurs which lived during nearly the entire span of the Mesozoic Era.
Pisanosaurus is very basal within Ornithischia; the postcrania seem to lack any good ornithischian synapomorphy; it was even suggested by Paul Sereno in 1991 that the fossil is a chimera. However, recent studies suggest that the fossils belong to a single specimen.
Pisanosaurus has been classified either as a heterodontosaurid or as the earliest known ornithischian. A 2008 study placed Pisanosaurus outside of (and more basal than) Heterodontosauridae. In this study, Pisanosaurus is the earliest and most primitive ornithischian.
Pisanosaurus is the type genus of the Pisanosauridae, a family erected by Casamiquela in the same paper which named Pisanosaurus. The Pisanosauridae family has fallen into disuse, as a 1976 study considered the group synonymous with the already named Heterodontosauridae.
The Ishigualasto tetrapod assemblage (Late Triassic, Agentina) and 40AR/ 39AR dating of dinosaur origins. (argon dating of dinosaur remains in Argentina)
May 07, 1993; Dinosaurs originated sometime during the Middle to Late Triassic and rose to dominate terrestrial tetrapod communities by the end...