Mar 23, 2019 | Updated: 12:48 PM EDT

Twist In The Tail: Dinosaur Family Tree May Not Be What It Was Believed To Be

Mar 23, 2017 06:12 AM EDT

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A display of the Deinonychus antirrhopus, a genus of carnivorous dromaeosaurid coelurosaurian dinosaurs and the Tenontosaurus, a genus of ornithopod dinosaur.

A new research has suggested that the earliest of the dinosaurs might have belonged to what is present day Scotland. This revelation has put question marks over the 130-year-old theory of dinosaurs' evolution. It is also a major "shake-up" for the old dinosaur family tree.

According to Mail Online, the researchers have found a Scottish specimen dubbed "Saltopus", which they believe to be the closest thing to what a dinosaur ancestor might look like. The fossil found has the remains of a pair of legs, some hip bones, and vertebrae. The study has initiated a major change in the dinosaur family tree in existence since 1888. It has shown two major reformulated categories, or "clades", that replace the two existing ones, long recognized by the paleontologists.

As per the new family tree, the age of the dinosaurs started 15 million years earlier than what was previously assumed. However, the theory might find itself hard to be accepted by Southern American researchers. The researchers say that it might happen that some of the most talked about dinosaurs like the Tyrannosaurus Rex might find itself out of place due to the new family tree.

According to ABC News, dinosaurs are split into two groups, namely "Ornithischia" and "Saurischia". The first one consists of dinosaurs with bird-like hips, such as the stegosaurus, while the later one has dinosaurs with reptile like hips, consisting of the brontosaurus. "Theropods" like the T-Rex were so far considered to be an offshoot of the second group, but the new study moves them to the first group, though on a different branch.

The researchers went through 75 dinosaur species, scanning through 450 characteristics. They used computer simulations to bring those with concurrent features in one group, creating almost ten thousand dinosaur family trees. The final one consists of 80 most likely scenarios, say the researchers.

The new study is considered a major breakthrough in understanding how large animals like dinosaurs, which lived on earth for over 150 million years, changed with time. However, due to the inconclusiveness of the early dinosaur fossils, experts might find it difficult to ascribe a single theory.

 
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