DR DAR­REN NAISH

BBC Earth (Asia) - - Update -

Palaeon­tol­o­gist

“The idea that the dinosaur fam­ily tree might re­quire re­vi­sion has re­ceived a mixed re­ac­tion. Given that the re­sult is so novel and, to date, based on just a sin­gle study, some ad­vo­cate cau­tion and scep­ti­cism. An al­ter­na­tive re­ac­tion is that the pro­posal is not sur­pris­ing given the large quan­tity of new anatom­i­cal data col­lected by Baron and his col­leagues. Fur­ther­more, a vague sim­i­lar­ity be­tween early or­nithis­chi­ans and theropods has been noted on sev­eral oc­ca­sions in re­cent years and there have even been sug­ges­tions that some early or­nithis­chi­ans – no­tably the fang-toothed het­erodon­tosaurids – were preda­tors. In re­cent decades, stud­ies of evo­lu­tion across the tree of life have re­sulted in the over­turn­ing of many tra­di­tional ideas. Con­se­quently, bi­ol­o­gists and palaeon­tol­o­gists are by now quite used to the idea that cher­ished evo­lu­tion­ary models may be shown wrong as new data comes along.

In­deed, the Or­nithoscel­ida hy­poth­e­sis does bet­ter ex­plain sev­eral ob­ser­va­tions. It might ex­plain why thero­pod and or­nithis­chian fos­sils share quill-like fi­bres that grow from their skin while fos­sil sauropodomorphs have – so far – al­ways lacked such struc­tures.

Stud­ies are al­ready un­der­way to see how this new model stands up to ad­di­tional tests.”

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