There has been a long debate about why dinosaurs were so successful. Say dinosaur, and most people think of the great flesh-eaters such as Tyrannosaurus rex, but the most successful dinosaurs were of course the plant-eaters.
A new study from the University of Bristol, led by Masters of Palaeobiology student Eddy Strickson, has presented clear evidence about how plant-eating dinosaurs evolved.
In the rich dinosaur deposits of North America, hundreds of skeletons of plant-eaters are found for every T. rex. But how did they survive and proliferate? Was it down to innovation or stimulus by plant evolution?
Eddy Strickson said: “The plant-eating ornithopods showed four evolutionary bursts; one in the middle of the Jurassic, and the other three in a cluster around 80 million years ago in the Late Cretaceous. This was down to innovation in their jaws and improved efficiency.”
Plants were evolving fast during the Mesozoic, with the rise of cycads, conifers, and Read on —>