Thursday, September 11, 2008

Why did dinosaurs win the evolutionary race?

It's silly to think of dinosaurs as evolutionary failures. They dominated the planet for over 100 million years. But why did they take over in the first place? Mammals were not around to compete, but the crurotarsan archosaurs, a group including the ancestors of crocodilians, were doing quite well at the dawn of the Mesozoic. The two competed until the late Triassic extinction event, when the dinosaurs survived very well but the crurotarsans all but vanished. Why? University of Bristol researchers Steve Brusatte and Mike Benton suggest it was simple dumb luck.

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