Dinosaur Phylogenetic Tree Shake-Up

An analysis of 74 dinosaur species leads a group of researchers to reorganize the extinct animals’ evolutionary history.

Mar 24, 2017
Jef Akst

WIKIMEDIA, © 2005 DAVID MONNIAUXDinosaurs may have originated earlier than thought—just after a mass extinction some 250 million years ago—and they may be related to one another differently than scientists have long believed, according to a new analysis of 74 dinosaur species, including Tyrannosaurus rex. The study, published this week (March 22) in Nature, proposes an overhaul to the 130-year-old phylogenetic organization that lumped the meat-eating dinosaurs in with the long-necked plant-eaters, such as Brontosaurus.

“This paper does have the potential to make us rewrite textbooks and redesign museum exhibits,” paleontologist Thomas Holtz of the University of Maryland in College Park told Science. But, “before the American Museum of Natural History shifts all their dinosaur skeletons around, we have to remember this is just one paper.”

“We may be proved to be correct, we may not,” coauthor Matthew Baron, a paleontology graduate student at the University of Cambridge, told Reuters. “But what has to happen now is a complete abandonment of old dogmatic views across the field because we have shown that rigorous and objective studies can pull apart age-old ideas, and that we as scientists should never got too comfortable with an idea when it can still be tested in new ways.”

Baron and colleagues collected data on more than 450 anatomical features from dinosaur fossils in museums around the world. They then ran the data through a computational analysis to determine the most likely fit between the species. Their analysis suggested that, some species from the group known as as lizard- or reptile-hipped Saurischia, which included carnivorous theropods such as T. rex as well as herbivorous sauropods such as Brontosaurus, be reclassified as a new group called Ornithoscelida (“bird-limbed”). Ornithoscelida would also include all species from a second major dinosaur group, the bird-hipped Ornithischia, which includes species such as Stegosaurus and Triceratops. Meanwhile, the Saurischia group would gain a new group of primitive carnivores called herrerasaurids.

The analysis also revealed that the earliest common ancestor of dinosaurs evolved between 247 million and 242 million years ago, and “was a quick, two-footed, generalist feeder that would have eaten a mix of plants and meat,” Baron told Reuters.

“It’s a radical proposal with a reasonable basis but no one expects it will be the last word,” Kevin Padian of the University of California, Berkeley, who was not involved in the analysis, told The New York Times.

Hans-Dieter Sues, a vertebrate paleontologist at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC, agreed. “I caution against totally reorganizing the dinosaur family tree just yet,” he told Nature. “For many regions of the world, there’s so much we don’t know about the fossil record.”

January 2019

Cannabis on Board

Research suggests ill effects of cannabinoids in the womb


Sponsored Product Updates

Horizon Discovery extends CRISPR Screening Service to primary human T cells
Horizon Discovery extends CRISPR Screening Service to primary human T cells
Horizon Discovery Group plc (LSE: HZD) (“Horizon” or “the Company”), a global leader in gene editing and gene modulation technologies, today announced the extension of its CRISPR Screening Service to includeex vivoT lymphocytes. The service extension meets the requirements of immunology-based research in drug discovery,enabling new gene targets to be identified in biologically and potentially therapeutically relevant settings.
pIC50: The Advantages of Thinking Logarithmically
pIC50: The Advantages of Thinking Logarithmically
Watch this webinar from Collaborative Drug Discovery to learn about how using pIC50 helps you get a better sense of the relative potencies, calculate the correct mean of multiple values, and select better sampling doses.
WIN a VIAFLO 96/384 to supercharge your microplate pipetting!
WIN a VIAFLO 96/384 to supercharge your microplate pipetting!
INTEGRA Biosciences is offering labs the chance to win a VIAFLO 96/384 pipette. Designed to simplify plate replication, plate reformatting or reservoir-to-plate transfers, the VIAFLO 96/384 allows labs without the space or budget for an expensive pipetting robot to increase the speed and throughput of routine tasks.
FORMULATRIX® digital PCR technology to be acquired by QIAGEN
FORMULATRIX® digital PCR technology to be acquired by QIAGEN
FORMULATRIX has announced that their digital PCR assets, including the CONSTELLATION® series of instruments, is being acquired by QIAGEN N.V. (NYSE: QGEN, Frankfurt Stock Exchange: QIA) for up to $260 million ($125 million upfront payment and $135 million of milestones).  QIAGEN has announced plans for a global launch in 2020 of a new series of digital PCR platforms that utilize the advanced dPCR technology developed by FORMULATRIX combined with QIAGEN’s expertise in assay development and automation.