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A Complete Skeleton of a Late Triassic Saurischian and the Early Evolution of Dinosaurs

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Science  11 Dec 2009:
Vol. 326, Issue 5959, pp. 1530-1533
DOI: 10.1126/science.1180350

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Early Dinosaur Discovery

Our understanding of the evolution of early dinosaurs is hampered by limited material, especially compared to the many Jurassic and Cretaceous samples. Nesbitt et al. (p. 1530) provide a complete view of a Late Triassic theropod based on several nearly complete skeletons from New Mexico. The dinosaur elucidates the likely relationships between early theropods and shows that some prominent features were already derived by this time. Comparison among Triassic dinosaur fauna and other early species suggests that Triassic North American fauna were diverse but not endemic, perhaps arising from earlier migrants from South America.