A small, insect-eating reptile that lived 237m years ago was a miniature ancestor of the giant dinosaurs that went on to dominate the Earth, according to scientists examining fossils in Madagascar.

The Kongonaphon kely measured about 40cm (16in) long and stood 10 cm (4in) tall at the hip, scientists said on Monday. It inhabited a floodplain region of what is now south-western Madagascar during the Triassic period about 237m years ago.

Kongonaphon was a long-legged predator that may have been bipedal. The shape of its small, conical and unserrated teeth and an examination of microwear on them suggests Kongonaphon, whose scientific name means “tiny bug slayer,” ate insects or other small invertebrates.

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