Paleontology

Around the world in 170 million years

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Science  16 Feb 2018:
Vol. 359, Issue 6377, pp. 757-758
DOI: 10.1126/science.359.6377.757-c

Dinosaurs followed a classic pattern of adaptive radiation as they spread across the planet.

CREDIT: JULIUS T. CSOTONYI

Dinosaurs were the dominant vertebrate on the planet for more than 170 million years. During that time, they dispersed and diversified into the myriad of forms that we recognize from fossils today. O'Donovan et al. use a phylogenetic modeling approach, in combination with fossil locations, to reconstruct locations of origin and map the path of dinosaur evolution and radiation from their emergence to their demise. The authors find that dinosaurs followed a classic pattern of evolutionary radiation from their origin in what is now South America. Dinosaur speciation rates were faster early in their history and slowed toward the end. Further, the authors conclude that early speciation was likely due to vicariance, whereas later speciation events were shaped by ecological pressures and niche filling.

Nat. Ecol. Evol. 10.1038/s41559-017-0454-6 (2018).

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