- Title: Fossil find challenges dinosaur evolution theories
- Date: 24th November 2016
- Summary: RIBERAO PRETO, BRAZIL (RECENT) (REUTERS) (SOUNDBITE) (Portuguese) PALEANTOLOGIST FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF RIBEIRAO PRETO, MAX CARDOSO, SAYING: "The discovery of these two fossils is important because in reality we believed that when dinosaurs emerged they wiped out the precursors, but in reality this discovery shows that they lived alongside each other for several millions of years until these animals were extinct."
- Embargoed: 9th December 2016 15:45
- Keywords: fossil Brazil dinosaur Carnian Santa Marta Formation University of Ribeirao Preto lagerpetid
- Location: CANOAS AND RIBERAO PRETO, BRAZIL
- City: CANOAS AND RIBERAO PRETO, BRAZIL
- Country: Chile
- Topics: Science
- Reuters ID: LVA00459SWSIJ
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Researchers in Brazil have made an unprecedented discovery which may challenge scientific understanding of elements of evolutionary history.
The discovery suggests that dinosaurs lived alongside precursor species for several millions of years.
Dinosaur precursors such as the lagerpetid (Ixalerpeton) were previously believed to have been wiped out when dinosaurs came into existence, but the discovery of a 230-million-year fossil showed that the two lived as contemporaries during the early stages of dinosaurs' evolution.
The fossil was extracted from the Carnian Santa Marta Formation in the south of Brazil, one of the oldest known rock units including dinosaur fossils anywhere in the world.
At the forefront of the discovery was paleontologist, Max Cardoso, from the University of Ribeirao Preto.
"In reality there are various sets of information, but one discovery, because there are two new species, a dinosaur and a dinosaur precursor, each one with its own significance for the evolutionary history of dinosaurs, and due to the fact that they were found together," said Cardoso.
Researchers reported that the new lagerpetid specimen found in the fossil preserves the first skull, scapular, and forelimb elements, as well as associated vertebrae known for the group.
Tooth evidence was also reported to show that the first dinosaurs most likely fed on many of small animals and most probably not plants.
According to Cardoso, these findings help to deepen our understanding the early stages of evolution in particular dinosaur groups.
"The precursor is very important because it shows which characteristics of the dinosaur are new, those which we had not imagined, and those which were inherited from (species) which came before the dinosaur, so it helps us to understand the origin and evolution of the first dinosaurs. The dinosaur which was found, the Buriolestes, is interesting because it is part of the group of Sauropodomorfos, which are giant four-legged herbivores, and the Buriolestes in reality is a small animal, a two-legged carnivore, which shows that those large herbivore dinosaurs came from meat-eating animals," said Cardoso.
"The discovery of these two fossils is important because in reality we believed that when dinosaurs emerged they wiped out the precursors, but in reality this discovery shows that they lived alongside each other for several millions of years until these animals were extinct," Cardoso added.
Further to these findings, researchers at the University of Sao Paulo are using CT scans to characterise and describe the animals' anatomy in greater detail. They also hope to gain a more precise radioisotopic date on the oldest dinosaur-bearing rocks, and also search for more Triassic fossils.
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