Dinosaurs were quite dominant at their time and also considered to be one of the most intriguing species that roamed on our planet. Their era most likely ended after an asteroid impact roughly 65 million years ago, although some theories suggest different causes led to their extinction. However, a recent study looks into how dinosaurs came to exist in the first place, suggesting they started walking on earth after a mass extinction event.
There are many studies that look into how dinosaurs lived and hunted during their time on Earth. However, scientists didn’t focus on their origin too much as they couldn’t provide enough scientific evidence for the purpose of study. The first dinosaurs started living around 245 million years ago. However, it’s still unclear how they became so diversified.
Scientists believe that dinosaurs could have diversified following another mass extinction event that occurred, and resulted in massive disruption of life on Earth. The event could have allowed for dinosaur life to flourish on Earth, according to an international team of scientists.
According to the team, about 232 million years ago, there had been huge volcanic eruptions occurring in Canada, which could have resulted in global warming with acidic rains wiping out the life that thrived on Earth at that time, on both land and the ocean. In this study, researchers refer to this particular event as the Carnian Pluvial Episode, which enabled dinosaurs, that were at that time rare, to become diversified and become the largest predators of their time.
“The discovery of the existence of a link between the first diversification of dinosaurs and a global mass extinction is important,” study co-author Mike Benton said in a statement. “The extinction didn’t just clear the way for the age of the dinosaurs, but also for the origins of many modern groups, including lizards, crocodiles, turtles, and mammals — key land animals today.”
The team suggested this theory after they studied different dinosaur prints that were obtained from rock sequences from the Dolomites mountain range in northern Italy. While some samples had little to no prints, some had much more. After they made a comparison of the samples that showed an explosion of print numbers, they found them to match the prints with the Carnian Pluvial Episode.
“We had detected evidence for the climate change in the Dolomites,” Piero Gianolla, another author of the study, said in the statement. “There were four pulses of warming and climate perturbation, all within a million years or so. This must have led to repeated extinctions.”
“We were excited to see that the footprints and skeletons told the same story,” Bernardi said. “We had been studying the footprints in the Dolomites for some time, and it’s amazing how clear cut the change from ‘no dinosaurs’ to ‘all dinosaurs’ was.”
The study that looks into the origin of dinosaurs following the mass extinction event and the Carnian Pluvial Episode appeared online on April 16 in the journal Nature Communications.