We all know and love dinosaurs. It is one of those few childhood things we rarely grow out of, like space travel, and Mufasa’s death. But what we never really cared about was how the dinosaurs came to be there. We took it for granted that dinosaurs just ruled the world, and why shouldn’t we? Dinosaurs were awesome. A new discovery shows that dinosaurs evolved quickly, cohabitated with their ancestors.
- Dinosauromorphs, the dinosaurs’ ancestors, turned out to be 5-10 million years younger than previously thought
- It was previously thought that dinosaurs ruled the world due to the Great Permian Extinction
- The appearance of the dinosaurs was not associated with a fundamental shift in the ecosystem
A team of paleontologists from Argentina, Brazil, California, and Utah determined, after studying a very important geological formation, that the dinosaurs evolved from their ancestors a lot more quickly than previously thought, and that they might have even cohabitated with them at some point.
The Chañares Formation is a rock formation 250 feet thick, in Argentina, comprised from rock sediments deposited by the rivers passing through there during the Triassic period. It contains a large number of samples from dinosauromorphs and dinosaurs, and because of the flowing rivers, a natural progression of their evolution throughout the Triassic can be observed.
The team collected rock samples from the basin, and then measured radioactive isotopes found in the volcanic ash within the rock layers. This led them to the conclusion that the dinosauromorphs, the dinosaurs’ ancestors, lived 5 to 10 million years later than anticipated.
This means that not only did dinosaurs have a much quicker evolution than previously thought, but that they also cohabitated with their ancestors for a while before they went extinct.
The main difference between the dinosaurs we all know and love and their ancestors was their physiology. And no, sadly they were not able to morph, as their name would suggest.
The dinosauromorphs had thicker bones, as well as different skeleton structures. Unlike their ancestors, the dinosaurs had a ball and socket type hip, as well as stronger leg muscles, longer spines, and feet that could hinge forward, allowing for an overall better locomotion. The dinosauromorphs also lacked their descendants’ extra skull hole, which allowed for a better cooling system and increased effort.
This is very big news for paleontologists, as it shows them a very progressive evolution of the dinosaurs and their ancestors, as well as disproving the old theory that the dinosaurs managed to take control of the world following a mass extinction.
Image source: Wikimedia