Research refutes long-held belief that diversity was declining
When dinosaurs became extinct from the effects of a massive asteroid hitting Earth 65 million years ago, there were more varieties of the reptiles living than ever before, according to a new analysis of global fossil records by a team of researchers led by a University of Rhode Island paleontologist. "Our analysis finally lays to rest the old, utterly unsupported idea that dinosaurs were declining in diversity during the last 10 million years of their time on Earth," said David Fastovsky, URI professor of geosciences.
Fastovskys analysis, published in the October issue of Geology, found that early dinosaurs from the late Triassic period comprised only 40 known genera, but diversity dramatically increased throughout the time dinosaurs were on Earth, skyrocketing in the Cretaceous period -- 99 to 65 million years ago -- when at least 245 dinosaur genera lived. "Dinosaur diversity was increasing logarithmically throughout their 160 million years on Earth," said Fastovsky, who is conducting research at the National Autonomous University of Mexico through July 2005 as a Fulbright Scholar. "Their increasing diversity seems to have been fueled by the evolution of new innovations that allowed them to explore new habitat."
Todd McLeish | EurekAlert!
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