Study sheds new light on the evolution of dinosaurs.
A new study finds that early dinosaurs evolved more quickly after their first relatives emerged.
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The discovery suggests that the origin of the first dinosaurs happened much more rapidly than originally thought, meaning it is time to look at revising the timeline between the dinosaurs and their early relatives, known as dinosauromorphs.
A team of international researchers examined the sediments of Chañares Formation and found that the zircon crystals in the sediments are 234 to 236 years old, much younger than previously estimated.
Chañares Formation is a 250 foot thick geologic formation located in Argentina. It is made up of the sediment deposits of rivers, lakes and streams from the Middle Triassic Period and isi also a rich source of fossils of dinosaur relatives.
"Among Triassic geologic formations containing fossils, the Chañares Formation is a classic. It contains a variety of complete fossil specimens of early dinosauromorphs, which are essentially dinosaur aunts, uncles and cousins.” Randall Irmis, a curator at Natural History Museum of Utah said.
Researches claim that is the first time when they have dated the rock accurately and the margin of error is very slim because the whole history of the dinosaurs is buried in one place.
“The Chañares Formation contains tuffs or volcanic ashes that can be dated with great accuracy. So in this basin, not only are there many high-quality, complete fossils that allow us to easily identify taxa, but there are also tuffs in between that allow us to date the entire column.” Claudia A. Marsicano, from University of Buenos Aires and lead author of the study, said.
The rock samples were crushed and tiny zircon crystals were extracted from them. Their radioactive isotopes were measured with a mass spectrometer, an instrument which helped determine the precise date age of crystals formation.
It demonstrated that early dinosaur relatives were much younger than originally thought and the time elapsed between the emergence of dinosaur relatives and the origin of dinosaurs was also very shorter.
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Source: Science Mag