Swift and adaptable: how early dinosaurs outran competitors, according to Bristol University study
The team studied the limb proportions of various reptile species from the Triassic period, which ranged from 252 to 201 million years ago, marking the first appearance of dinosaurs. The research indicates not only were the early dinosaurs bipedal, but they were also adapted for running. In addition, dinosaurs showcased a more versatile range of running styles than some of their competitors, making them evolutionarily adaptable.
The evolutionary success of dinosaurs
Around 233 million years ago, during a climate crisis, dinosaurs - which had existed in small numbers for approximately 20 million years - came out on top of their competition. The climate had turned arid, and food had become sparse. Dinosaurs leveraged this crisis, using it as an opportunity to take over the world. In contrast, the ancestors of crocodiles could not spread out expansively and dynamically.
Tom Stubbs, a research team member, notes that while we often visualize dinosaurs as large and ungainly creatures, they began their existence as small, swift insectivores. After the Triassic extinction, large, multi-meter giants emerged, some even being armored. Many of these dinosaurs were four-legged, but fast, agile bipeds continued to exist. This diversity enabled dinosaurs to persist on Earth for an extensive period.
For more information on this topic, visit: https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/10.1098/rsos.231495.