ENP Newswire -
Release date- 05082014 - A new dinosaur species from
The 200 million year old fossils are from the La Quinta Formation in
Bones from at least four Laquintasaura were found together, with individuals ranging in age from three approximately 12 years old. It is possible they lived in small groups, making it the earliest example of social behaviour in ornithischians, 'bird-hipped' dinosaurs, a group which includes species such as Stegosaurus and Iguanodon.
Laquintasaura walked on two hind-legs and was about the size of a small dog, measuring one metre in length and 25 centimetres at the hip. It is thought to have been largely herbivorous, feeding on ferns, but long curved tips on some of its teeth suggest it might have also eaten insects or other small prey.
'The abundant fossils of Laquintasaura are very important because they occur very soon after one of the largest mass extinction events in the history of life. The impact of the extinction may have been to remove other groups of reptiles that were potential competitors of early dinosaurs and create ecological space within which new dinosaur groups could thrive.'
'We often think of the mass extinction at the end of the Cretaceous period in which the dinosaurs met their doom, but this much earlier and less famous mass extinction at the end of the Triassic period may actually have been key to driving the early evolutionary rise of dinosaurs.'
'Laquintasaura lived very soon after the major extinction at the end of the Triassic Period, 201 million years ago, showing dinosaurs bounced back quickly after this event. It is fascinating and unexpected to see they lived in herds, something we have little evidence of so far in dinosaurs from this time. The fact that it is from completely new and early taxon means we can fill some gaps in our understanding of when different groups of dinosaurs evolved.'
Sophisticated techniques such as analysing the residual radioactivity of tiny crystals within the rock, leaves little doubt where Laquintasaura fits in the timeline of dinosaur evolution.
The international team of scientists includes Dr
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