(ORDO NEWS) — Dinosaurs began to dominate the Earth about 200 million years ago, at the end of the Triassic period, and paleontologists believed that competitive advantages over more primitive reptiles played a key role in their success. However, in reality, dinosaurs just got lucky with time.
At the end of the Triassic period, the evolutionary history of dinosaurs was just beginning, and at that time they were neither the largest nor the most numerous reptiles on Earth.
In particular, four-meter- high ethosaurs and dicynodonts grazed side by side with them , and the main predators were, apparently, rauisuchs , which grew up to six meters in length.
So how did the first dinosaurs, which could not yet boast of solid size, manage to cope with such competition?
Did their anatomy and ability to stand on two hind legs play a key role in this, making them more agile than most animals of the time, or were they just lucky?
Judging by the results of the study, nothing foreshadowed the success of dinosaurs even 20 million years before the end of the Triassic: they were few in number and not very diverse, but were found mainly in the north and south of the Pangea supercontinent , where the climate was more severe.
Everything changed only 201 million years ago, when the Earth was swept by a mass extinction.
Using the example of early sauropodomorphs (long-necked herbivorous animals, which include diplodocus and brontosaurus ), researchers have shown that it was not competitive exclusion, but climatic changes that liberated many ecological niches that caused the rapid flowering of the first dinosaurs and their mass exodus to warmer regions of the Earth.
In other words, the success story of the dinosaur is not much different from the success story of mammals: both were favored by chance that cleared the ecological foothold.
The researchers now plan to correlate climate patterns and population dynamics throughout dinosaur dominance to understand the role of climate change in the history of this amazing group of animals.
Contact us: [email protected]