Friday, January 14, 2011

Tiny fossils offer clues to 'dawn of the dinosaur era' (with complete reevaluation of Eoraptor)

Eodromaeus, new basal theropod from the Triassic in Argentina.

Triassic Park was a more diverse place than we thought, according to the latest finds from the 230-million-year-old Ischigualasto formation in north-eastern Argentina. Dinosaurs make up one-third of all vertebrate genera found in the fossil beds, and all three major dinosaur groups had already appeared – not bad for a time when the beasts were thought to be rare.

Steve Brusatte, quoted in the same story makes the important point about the tendency of even scientists to build narratives around scrappy and incomplete evidence, warning:

against drawing major evolutionary conclusions. He points out that huge holes remain in the Triassic fossil record – the next-oldest well-preserved dinosaur fossils are about 15 million years younger. "You have to be careful in drawing big pictures from one site," he warns.

Chicago Tribune article here.

Mike Taylor in a post to the Dinosaur Mailing List has reaction similar to mine this morning, (though for me it was the newspaper article):

Seriously?  Even freakin' Science is not capable of mentioning a theropod without throwing in an extraneous T. rex reference?  It makes me want to weep.

Well, I didn't want to weep, but I did roll my eyes.

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