Climate Change Propelled Dinosaurs’ Rise to Dominance

Chañares Formation Life

Dinosaur ancestors are shown in this artist’s conception of life in the Chañares formation approximately 235 million years ago. Credit: Victor O. Leshyk,

Climate change, rather than competition, played a key role in the ascendancy of dinosaurs through the Late Triassic and Early Jurassic periods.

According to new research, changes in global climate associated with the Triassic-Jurassic mass extinction – which wiped out many large terrestrial vertebrates such as the giant armadillo-like aetosaurs – actually benefitted the earliest dinosaurs.

In particular, sauropod-like dinosaurs, which became the giant herbivore species of the later Jurassic like Diplodocus and Brachiosaurus, were able to thrive and expand across new territories as the planet warmed up after the extinction event, 201 million years ago.

The new evidence was published on December 16 in the journal Current Biologyby an international team of paleontologists led by the Universities of Birmingham and Bristol, in the UK, Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU), in Germany, and the University of São Paulo in Brazil.

The team compared computer models of prehistoric global climate conditions such as temperature and rainfall with data on the different locations of dinosaurs taken from sources such as the Paleobiology Database. They showed how the sauropods, and sauropod-like animals, with their long tails and necks and small heads, were the runaway success story of a turbulent period of evolution.

Dr. Emma Dunne, now a lecturer in paleontology at FAU, carried out the research while at the University of Birmingham. She said: “What we see in the data suggests that instead of dinosaurs being outcompeted by other large vertebrates, it was variations in climate conditions that were restricting their diversity. But once these conditions changed across the Triassic-Jurassic boundary, they were able to flourish.

“The results were somewhat surprising, because it turns out that sauropods were really fussy from the get-go: later in their evolution they continue to stay in warmer areas and avoid polar regions.”

Co-author on the paper, Professor Richard Butler, at the University of Birmingham, said: “Climate change appears to have been really important in driving the evolution of early dinosaurs. What we want to do next is use the same techniques to understand the role of climate in the next 120 million years of the dinosaur story.”

Reference: “Climatic controls on the ecological ascendancy of dinosaurs” by Emma M. Dunne, Alexander Farnsworth, Roger B.J. Benson, Pedro L. Godoy, Sarah E. Greene, Paul J. Valdes, Daniel J. Lunt and Richard J. Butler, 16 December 2022, Current Biology.
DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2022.11.064

The research was funded by the Leverhulme Trust and the European Research Council.

3 Comments on "Climate Change Propelled Dinosaurs’ Rise to Dominance"

  1. “Climate change, …, played a key role in the ascendancy of dinosaurs …”

    Climate change, as in global warming.

  2. How can I believe this story it only use one side of science this is badit scientist part .they are 2 part of science the other is bandit science.pseutosuchian is a dinosaur aetosaur is a dinosaur it’s close relative revueltosaurus has plant eating teeth like birdhip dinosaur the skull pseudosuchians is like tetanuran dinosaur the wide skull there is a link clearly a primitive tetanuran with 5 finger since has 5 finger it’s a relative .turtle skin osteoderm in thecodont mean they are dinosaur all so seen in outside of thecodont reptiles.the quadrupedal dinosaur was doing very well in the Jurassic and they were very diverse with different size some were very big .as for pseutosuchian quadrupedalism I see no evidence for that human ankle were common clearly came from ancestor that was bipedal small arm big leg like quadrupedal dinosaur which all came from bipedal ancestor primitive lizard do not have small arm big leg.clearly lot of pseutosuchian were bipedal but this bipedalism was different from the fuse ankle dinosaur some of them have open hip socket but it was small. Clearly the won without a fourth trochanter is not bipedal.aetosaur has serrated teeth it’s a dinosaur serrated teeth in thecodont means they are dinosaur.the myth that dinosaur need very warm climate to do good the gator is a native of North Carolina were climate sometimes are artic that why feral gator survive many winter in the Penn state and dwarf caiman is native of the mountain and Nile crocodile can live in South Africa I know there is lot of debate if South Africa Nile crocodile is a Nile crocodile if it is a new species.and many pseutosuchian has 4 sacral vertebrae or more a clear bipedal feature which show they were dinosaur.the gator is not a pseutosuchian it is a spinosauridae dinosaur a tetanuran dinosaur that grow there fingers back now has 5 finger but did not grow 2 claws because tetanuran does not need those claws that why gator is so successful ? The gator Is Cingulum teeth dinosaur

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