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Clues to birth of the dinosaurs

  • 06-10-2010 10:00pm
    Registered Users Posts: 30,747 Galvasean

    The earliest known fossils associated with dinosaurs have been identified in 250-million-year-old rocks from Poland.

    The fossils -- footprints made by dinosaur relatives known as dinosauromorphs -- suggest that dinosaurs evolved from small, four-legged animals that lived during the Early Triassic just a few million years after the "Great Dying," Earth's most severe extinction event to date.

    "For some reason, the major dinosaur lineages survived this extinction -- we don't know exactly why, and it may have been little more than random fortune -- and they probably then had the freedom to flower in a post-apocalyptic world," lead author Stephen Brusatte told Discovery News.

    "(Dinosauromorphs) are the very closest relatives to dinosaurs, animals that were right on the cusp of becoming dinosaurs, shared many features with dinosaurs, probably looked and behaved like dinosaurs, but are not bona fide dinosaurs by definition," Brusatte, a paleontologist at the American Museum of Natural History, explained.

    Full article here.

    Prorotodactylus, a dinosauromorph - by Grzegorz Niedźwiedzki