For one thing, advanced dinosaurs existed much earlier than thought. From ScienceDaily:
“We were surprised to find a close relative of Diplodocus in East Asia 174 million years ago. It’s commonly thought that sauropods did not disperse there until 200 million years ago and many of their giant descendants, reached this region much later, if at all,” explained study co-author Professor Paul Upchurch (UCL Earth Sciences).
“Our discovery of Lingwulong demonstrates that several different types of advanced sauropod must have existed at least 15 million years earlier and spread across the world while the supercontinent Pangaea was still a coherent landmass. This forces a complete re-evaluation of the origins and evolution of these animals.”
The new evidence also reinforces the growing realisation that the Early Jurassic (200-175 million years ago), was a key time in dinosaur evolution, witnessing the origins and diversification of many groups that went on to dominate the later Jurassic and Cretaceous.
“Diplodocus-like neosauropods were thought to have never made it to East Asia because this region was cut-off from the rest of the world by Jurassic seaways, so that China evolved its own distinctive and separate dinosaur fauna. However, Lingwulong shows that these Diplodocus-like sauropods were present after all, and implies that the isolation of East Asia was less profound and short-lived than we realised,” said lead author, Dr Xing Xu (Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology & Paleoanthropology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China). Paper. (open access) – Xing Xu, Paul Upchurch, Philip D. Mannion, Paul M. Barrett, Omar R. Regalado-Fernandez, Jinyou Mo, Jinfu Ma, Hongan Liu. A new Middle Jurassic diplodocoid suggests an earlier dispersal and diversification of sauropod dinosaurs. Nature Communications, 2018; 9 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-05128-1 More.
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Researcher: “[i]t’s amazing how clear cut the change from ‘no dinosaurs’ to ‘all dinosaurs’ was.”
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