Another clue to the origins of dinosaurs

This was originally posted at: http://blogs.egu.eu/palaeoblog/?p=1222

Often the early evolution and radiation of the first dinosaurs is an overlooked part of their tale, in favour of the more dramatic but arguably no less important tales of their later radiations and extinctions. It is actually a fairly poorly understood part of their evolution too, with the timing, and actual mechanism that drove them to become the most successful land group ever still a bit of a mystery.

We are, however,  learning more and more about this important phase of their history, in a time known as the Late Triassic some 231-201 million years ago. A new fossil site from this time in Poland – probably not one of the places you’d associate with important fossils – is helping to fill in the blanks. Usually, dinosaur-bearing sites from around this time are known from the southwestern United States and southern South America, so a European locality can potentially tell us quite a bit!

Continue reading

The early evolution of dinosaurs

This was originally posted at: http://blogs.egu.eu/palaeoblog/?p=581

Dinosaurs. What springs to mind when they’re mentioned? Colossal, towering sauropods? Packs of feisty feathered fiends? Or huge herds of hadrosaurs, chomping their way across the plains of long-lost worlds? Most, including myself, will automatically default to any one of these images when dinosaurs come up in conversation (what, you mean it’s not that frequent for normal people?) But we often neglect to think the earliest dinosaurs, spectacular organisms that gave birth to the most successful, and on-going, terrestrial vertebrate radiation of all time.

Continue reading

Early Evolution of the Dinosaurs

Dinosaurs. What springs to mind when they’re mentioned? The colossal sauropods? Packs of feisty feathered fiends? Or huge herds of hadrosaurs, chomping their way across the plains of long lost worlds? Most, including myself, will automatically default to any one of these archetypal images when dinosaurs come up in conversation (what, you mean it’s not that frequent for normal people??) But we often neglect the earliest dinosaurs from long before these, spectacular organisms that gave birth to the most successful, and ongoing, terrestrial vertebrate radiation of all time.

Continue reading