Tech & Science New dinosaur fossil pushes evolution of gigantism in sauropods back 30 million years

00:57  10 july  2018
00:57  10 july  2018 Source:   abc.net.au

Giant dinosaur bones get archeologists rethinking Triassic period

  Giant dinosaur bones get archeologists rethinking Triassic period Giant dinosaurs lived on Earth much earlier than previously thought, according to a team of excavators in Argentina who discovered the remains of a 200-million-year old species. The species, baptized Ingenia prima, was about three times the size of the largest Triassic dinosaurs from its era. It was discovered in the Balde de Leyes dig site in San Juan province, 1,100 kilometers (680 miles) west of the Argentine capital Buenos Aires.The find was published in the specialist Nature Ecology & Evolution journal on Monday and revealed in Argentina by the La Matanza National University's Scientific Dissemination Agency.

By the Late Jurassic (150 million years ago), sauropods had become widespread Complete sauropod fossil finds are rare. Many species, especially the largest, are known only from isolated and disarticulated bones. (2011). "Biology of the sauropod dinosaurs : the evolution of gigantism ".

(2011). "Biology of the sauropod dinosaurs : the evolution of gigantism ". "A gigantic new dinosaur from Argentina and the evolution of the sauropod hind foot". (2014). "Rates of Dinosaur Body Mass Evolution Indicate 170 Million Years of Sustained Ecological Innovation on the Avian

A new dinosaur called Ingentia prima appeared to have a air sacs in its neck, shown in this artist's impression in green, and walked on flexed feet.© Provided by ABC News A new dinosaur called Ingentia prima appeared to have a air sacs in its neck, shown in this artist's impression in green, and walked on flexed feet. Think of a plant-eating dinosaur, and chances are you picture something along the lines of a brachiosaurus.

These iconic giants belonged to a group of dinosaurs called sauropods — massive creatures with thick, column-like legs and a long neck and tail.

Now, the discovery of a new dinosaur species suggests gigantism in sauropods evolved about 30 million years earlier than previously thought.

The newly uncovered bones, belonging to a plant-eater dubbed Ingentia prima, also suggest that there were a couple of different ways these giant dinosaurs evolved.

The largest dinosaurs got huge way earlier than we thought

  The largest dinosaurs got huge way earlier than we thought They lived on Pangea more than 200 million years ago. They lived on Pangea more than 200 million years ago.

The unearthed fossils belong to at least five dinosaur categories, such as ornithopods, sauropods and stegosaurs, and date back to the Jurassic period, according to researcher Xu Xing with the Photo: Xinhua. Fossilized dinosaur bones, between 180 and 160 million years old. Share to

A new PLOS Collection featuring research on the complex evolutionary cascade theory that made the unique gigantism of sauropod dinosaurs possible launched on October 30 th. Fossil dinosaur tracks give insight into lives of prehistoric giants. December 1, 2015.

The fossil find was unveiled in Nature Ecology and Evolution today by an Argentinian crew led by National University of San Juan paleontologist Cecilia Apaldetti.

"Now we are rethinking the evolution of giant size in dinosaurs," Dr. Apaldetti said.

Most paleontologists think sauropod dinosaurs first appeared on the scene in the early Jurassic period, starting with the 11-metre Vulcanodon about 180 million years ago.

The discovery of the Ingentia prima — a dinosaur that existed about 205 million years ago and was about 8-10 metres long — has challenged this idea.

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Dinosaurs are a diverse group of reptiles of the clade Dinosauria. They first appeared during the Triassic period, between 243 and 233.23 million years ago

Dinosaurs evolved from the archosaurs 232-234 Ma ( million years ago) in the Ladinian age, the latter part of the Middle Triassic. Dinosauria is a well-supported clade, present in 98% of bootstraps. It is diagnosed by many features including loss of the postfrontal on the skull and an elongate

But whether the new dinosaur walked on two legs or four, and was a sauropod at all, is up for debate.

Big dino haul

The story of Ingentia prima starts with a cattle farmer in northern Argentina.

"He [told the local museum], 'I have seen bones inside rocks but they don't seem to be from cows'," Dr Apaldetti said.

When she and her colleagues went to check them out, they found a rich trove of fossils dating back to the Triassic and Jurassic periods, or 190 million to 210 million years ago.

Today, the region is dry and scrubby. But back when the fossilised specimens were living, breathing animals, it was part of the supercontinent Pangaea.

Being near the equator, the climate was warm with periodic rains, Dr. Apaldetti said: "Something similar to a current savannah, probably with a large amount of shrubs to satisfy the great herbivores of that time."

Among the fossilised remains, in 2015 they found a new dinosaur species — Ingentia prima — alongside other, previously known relatives called Lessemsaurus sauropoides.

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Sauropods were giant plant-eaters with a distinctive long neck. The largest animal to ever walk the Earth, the brachiosaurus, was a type of Sauropod . The dinosaur , which also dated back to about 125 million years ago, was given the name ‘Morelladon beltrani’. Despite its enormous size, the new

When Did Sauropods Live? Sauropods appeared in the late Triassic period and were common, widespread, and diverse by the Jurassic period. They went extinct at the end of the Cretaceous period (65 million years ago), along with the other remaining dinosaurs .

Weighing in at an estimated 7–10 tonnes, both dinosaurssported a long neck and tail, as well as air sacs in their body, like later sauropods did.

Air sacs are thought to help keep the massive beasts cool.

But unlike their more recent four-legged counterparts, which stood on straight tree-trunk-like legs,Ingentia prima seemed to stand on flexed feet.

Their bones also showed signs of seasonal growth, also different to how paleontologists think later sauropods grew.

Dinosaurs like brachiosaurus, Dr Apaldetti said, probably grew at a fairly rapid but consistent rate.

Ingentia prima's bones show it grew even faster at times, but slowed at others.

"With this discovery we can see that the first steps toward gigantism occurred 30 million years before the giants dominated practically the entire planet," Dr Apaldetti said.

"It [also] shows that there were other ways to be giant, and not necessarily implied the same anatomical changes that all other giants such as the titanosaurs required."

Four legs or two?

But Steve Salisbury, a ppaleontologistat the University of Queensland who was not involved with the study, isn't convinced that Ingentia prima was a sauropod.

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Sauropod Evolution . As far as we know, the first true sauropods (such as Vulcanodon and Barapasaurus) arose about 200 million years ago Generally, even the most ardent advocates of warm-blooded dinosaurs back off when it comes to sauropods since simulations show that these

January 30 th, 2018. 3 pictures. African fossils dating back to the Late Cretaceous (about 100 million to 66 million years ago) are relatively scarce, leaving scientists with little information about the types of View gallery - 3 images. Saharan school-bus-sized sauropod patches up fossil record.

Rather than walking on four legs, he suspects they probably walked on two.

"Dinosaurs similar to Ingentia prima are typically referred to as 'basal sauropodomorphs', meaning they are on the side of the dinosaurian family tree that includes sauropods, but they are not there quite yet," he said.

"Most basal sauropodomorphs are thought to have walked on their hind legs like their meat-eating cousins, the theropods, but had a long neck and ate plants, like their descendants, the sauropods."

The new fossil haul was missing a few vital bones, such as Ingentia prima's hip, thigh bone and most of the lower leg.

Without them, Dr. Salisbury said, it's hard to gauge the animal's posture.

And based on the few bones reported in the paper, "Ingentia prima's hand doesn't look ideal for putting on the ground," he added.

"They don't have a lot of the skeleton and, overall, the bits that are there don't look all that different from other basal sauropodomorphs."

So Ingentia might have been able to get on all fours, but probably spent most of its time on two legs — a little like another basal sauropodomorph that lived about 210 million years ago called Plateosaurus engelhardti, which is known from much more complete material.

"Although Ingentia prima looks like it was large for a basal sauropodomorph, unfortunately, they just don't have enough in this paper to make it appear too different to something like Plateosaurus engelhardti, and it's pretty much agreed that it was bipedal," he said.

"If that's the case, the transition to four-legged locomotion must have happened later."

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