The first known dinosaurs grew at a rapid and continuous rate | Trending Viral hub


During the Triassic Period (251 million to 220 million years ago), the first known dinosaurs grew rapidly and continuously, but so did many other reptiles that lived then, according to a study. new study in Plus one. However, over time, the descendants of dinosaurs generally maintained these rapid growth rates, while the descendants of other reptiles eventually grew more slowly.

“One of the interesting things our study confirmed is that, in this Triassic system, even the animals that were most closely related to living crocodiles grew quite quickly, and definitely much faster than their modern descendants,” he says. Kristina Curry Rogersprofessor of biology and geology at Macalester College in Minnesota and one of the authors of the study.

Was there an evolutionary advantage?

Researchers already knew that later dinosaurs from the Jurassic and Cretaceous Periods grew faster than their crocodile compatriots. To see if this was true for the first dinosaurs, they turned to a place where they could get fossils of both the first dinosaurs and other four-legged creatures (tetrapods) that lived alongside them.

That place? The Ischigualasto Formation in the province of San Juan, Argentina, because it contains some of the best and oldest dinosaur fossils in the world. The formation also contains non-dinosaur creatures that researchers could compare to.

“At this time, about 230 million years ago, dinosaurs were just warming up in an evolutionary sense,” Rogers says. “Back then, a whole variety of other terrestrial tetrapods were more common and more diverse.”

Looking at a variety of creatures could help researchers find out if any developed an evolutionary advantage. So, they created cross sections of bones from various creatures from the formation dating to the Triassic Period. They then studied microscopic details within the bones that serve as growth markers.

Read more: A complete timeline of dinosaurs to extinction: how long did they roam the Earth?

The first growth spurt of dinosaurs

Their observations showed that the first dinosaurs were already growing at a rapid and continuous rate, much like their later Mesozoic descendants, but there were some subtle distinctions.

“Some Jurassic Age dinosaurs seem to change things up a bit, growing at a high rate but with occasional pauses throughout their life history,” Curry Rogers says. These periodic pauses seem to be missing both in the first dinosaurs and in some of the non-dinosaurs that lived alongside them.

She hypothesizes that similar growth patterns among many animals during the Triassic Period (despite differences in body types and lifestyles) indicate that the “dawn of the dinosaurs” was a time of evolutionary experimentation, where Rapid developments may have been key to survival.

“Growth rates, combined with many other special anatomical and behavioral characteristics of early dinosaurs, probably played a critical role in their ultimate success,” concludes Curry Rogers.

Read more: Do we still have species that are descendants of dinosaurs?

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