Navigation Links
Dinosaur fossils fit perfectly into the evolutionary tree of life
Date:1/29/2009

A recent study by researchers at the University of Bath and London's Natural History Museum has found that scientists' knowledge of the evolution of dinosaurs is remarkably complete.

Evolutionary biologists use two ways to study the evolution of prehistoric plants and animals: firstly they use radioactive dating techniques to put fossils in chronological order according to the age of the rocks in which they are found (stratigraphy); secondly they observe and classify the characteristics of fossilised remains according to their relatedness (morphology).

Dr Matthew Wills from the University of Bath's Department of Biology & Biochemistry worked with Dr Paul Barrett from the Natural History Museum and Julia Heathcote at Birkbeck College (London) to analyse statistical data from fossils of the four major groups of dinosaur to see how closely they matched their trees of evolutionary relatedness.

The researchers found that the fossil record for the dinosaurs studied, ranging from gigantic sauropods to two-legged meat eaters such as T. rex, matched very well with the evolutionary tree, meaning that the current view of evolution of these creatures is very accurate.

Dr Matthew Wills explained: "We have two independent lines of evidence on the history of life: the chronological order of fossils in the rocks, and 'trees' of evolutionary relatedness.

"When the two tell the same story, the most likely explanation is that both reflect the truth. When they disagree, and the order of animals on the tree is out of whack with the order in the rocks, you either have a dodgy tree, lots of missing fossils, or both.

"What we've shown in this study is that the agreement for dinosaurs is remarkably good, meaning that we can have faith in both our understanding of their evolution, and the relative completeness of their fossil record.

"In other words, our knowledge of dinosaurs is very, very good."

The researchers studied gaps in the fossil record, so-called 'ghost ranges', where the evolutionary tree indicates there should be fossils but where none have yet been found. They mapped these gaps onto the evolutionary tree and calculated statistical probabilities to find the closeness of the match.

Dr Wills said: "Gaps in the fossil record can occur for a number of reasons. Only a tiny minority of animals are preserved as fossils because exceptional geological conditions are needed. Other fossils may be difficult to classify because they are incomplete; others just haven't been found yet.

"Pinning down an accurate date for some fossils can also prove difficult. For example, the oldest fossil may be so incomplete that it becomes uncertain as to which group it belongs. This is particularly true with fragments of bones. Our study made allowances for this uncertainty.

"We are excited that our data show an almost perfect agreement between the evolutionary tree and the ages of fossils in the rocks. This is because it confirms that the fossil record offers an extremely accurate account of how these amazing animals evolved over time and gives clues as to how mammals and birds evolved from them."


'/>"/>

Contact: Vicky Just
v.j.just@bath.ac.uk
44-012-253-86883
University of Bath
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. New dinosaur species found in Montana
2. Emory paleontologist reports discovery of carnivorous dinosaur tracks in Australia
3. Dinosaur from Sahara ate like a mesozoic cow
4. Massive dinosaur discovered in Antarctica sheds light on life, distribution of sauropodomorphs
5. Unusual fish-eating dinosaur had crocodile-like skull
6. Seismic images show dinosaur-killing meteor made bigger splash
7. New dinosaur from Mexico offers insights into ancient life on West America
8. Quantum weirdness, parallel worlds, dinosaur poop, and the ultimate fate of the universe...
9. Grand Canyon may be as old as dinosaurs, says new study
10. Medical College researchers find dinosaur clues in fat
11. Genetic sequencing of protein from T. rex bone confirms dinosaurs link to birds
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Dinosaur fossils fit perfectly into the evolutionary tree of life
(Date:4/17/2017)... Florida , April 17, 2017 NXT-ID, ... technology company, announces the filing of its 2016 Annual Report on ... and Exchange Commission. ... on Form 10-K is available in the Investor Relations section of ... as on the SEC,s website at http://www.sec.gov . ...
(Date:4/11/2017)... 2017 No two people are believed ... New York University Tandon School of Engineering and ... that partial similarities between prints are common enough ... phones and other electronic devices can be more ... lies in the fact that fingerprint-based authentication systems ...
(Date:4/5/2017)... KEY FINDINGS The global market for stem ... 25.76% during the forecast period of 2017-2025. The rise ... growth of the stem cell market. Download ... The global stem cell market is segmented on the ... cell market of the product is segmented into adult ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/9/2017)... , Oct. 9, 2017  BioTech Holdings announced ... by which its ProCell stem cell therapy prevents ... ischemia.  The Company, demonstrated that treatment with ProCell ... limbs saved as compared to standard bone marrow ... HGF resulted in reduction of therapeutic effect.  ...
(Date:10/9/2017)... (PRWEB) , ... October 09, 2017 , ... At its ... Dr. Christopher Stubbs, a professor in Harvard University’s Departments of Physics and Astronomy, has ... was a member of the winning team for the 2015 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental ...
(Date:10/9/2017)... ... October 09, 2017 , ... ... October 5, 2017, in the medical journal, Epilepsia, Brain Sentinel’s SPEAC® System ... standard, video EEG, in detecting generalized tonic-clonic seizures (GTCS) using surface electromyography ...
(Date:10/7/2017)... ... October 06, 2017 , ... ... ProxiMeta™ Hi-C metagenome deconvolution product, featuring the first commercially available Hi-C kit. ... to perform Hi-C metagenome deconvolution using their own facilities, supplementing the company’s ...
Breaking Biology Technology: