In honor of Groundhog Day, something about the size of a groundhog changes science!
After 130 Years,
We Might Have to Completely Redraw The Dinosaur Family Tree
We’re in for a major shake-up.
Scientists are claiming that the classification of two major dinosaur groups has been wrong for over a century, and if they’re right, it would be like everyone realising that some types of “cats” are actually dogs.
The controversial paper has also suggested that the physical location of the first dinosaurs might be incorrect – pointing to a previously unimportant cat-sized fossil in Scotland as their evidence.
“This is a textbook changer – if it continues to pan out,” palaeontologist Thomas Holtz from University of Maryland, who wasn’t involved in the research, told Nature.
“It’s only one analysis, but it’s a thorough one.”
Right now, the dinosaur evolutionary tree divides dinosaurs up into two groups:Ornithischia and Saurischia.
Species have been placed into one of these groups depending on their hip bone structure – if their hips were bird-like, they’re an ornithischian, if their hips werelizard-like, they’re a saurischian.
As Hannah Devlin explains over at The Guardian, the bird-like Ornithischia group includes relatives of Stegosaurus and Triceratops, whereas theropods such as Tyrannosaurus rex, sauropods such as Diplodocus, and a meat-eating group called the Herrerasauridae all fell within the lizard-hipped Saurischia group.
Now, researchers from the Natural History Museum in London say this might not be the case at all, based on their analysis of 457 anatomical features from 74 dinosaur species across both groups.