Evidence for an Early Triassic Origin for the Dinosaur Stem Lineage

Brusatte, S. L., Niedźwiedzki, G., and R. J. Butler. 2010. Footprints pull origin and diversification of dinosaur stem lineage deep into Early Triassic. Proceedings of the Royal Society B. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2010.1746

Abstract - The ascent of dinosaurs in the Triassic is an exemplary evolutionary radiation, but the earliest phase of dinosaur history remains poorly understood. Body fossils of close dinosaur relatives are rare, but indicate that the dinosaur stem lineage (Dinosauromorpha) originated by the latest Anisian (ca 242–244 Ma). Here, we report footprints from the Early–Middle Triassic of Poland, stratigraphically well constrained and identified using a conservative synapomorphy-based approach, which shifts the origin of the dinosaur stem lineage back to the Early Olenekian (ca 249–251 Ma), approximately 5–9 Myr earlier than indicated by body fossils, earlier than demonstrated by previous footprint records, and just a few million years after the Permian/Triassic mass extinction (252.3 Ma). Dinosauromorph tracks are rare in all Polish assemblages, suggesting that these animals were minor faunal components. The oldest tracks are quadrupedal, a morphology uncommon among the earliest dinosauromorph body fossils, but bipedality and moderately large body size had arisen by the Early Anisian (ca 246 Ma). Integrating trace fossils and body fossils demonstrates that the rise of dinosaurs was a drawn-out affair, perhaps initiated during recovery from the Permo-Triassic extinction.

Popular news story here with a horrible title as they are not true dinosaur footprints.

1 comment:

  1. Holy poop -- is Steve Brusatte yet averaging one major publication per week? It's GOT to be one a month at the very least. If he wasn't such a nice guy, it would be humiliating. Or, no, wait -- it IS humiliating, but because he's such a nice guy we don't even have the lame consolation of hating him for it.

    So, hey, knock it off, Steve, you're making the rest of us look bad!

    Or, er, congratulations.


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