A new study suggests that dinosaurs might have evolved more rapidly than we'd thought, emerging less than 5 million years after so-called "pre-dinosaurs" hit the scene. That shaves about 10 million years off the previous evolutionary time line.
The paper published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences revisits the age of some important early dinosaur fossils.
The researchers, led by University of Buenos Aires paleontologist Claudia Marsicano, suggest that these vital fossils - found in the Chañares Formation in Argentina - have previously been misdated.
The Chañares is important because it features fossils from dinosaurs as well as dinosauromorphs from earlier in evolutionary history, so researchers can track their evolutionary time line.
Similar to dinosaurs
These dinosauromorphs were generally on the small side, but otherwise quite similar to the dinosaurs we're all familiar with - with a few important exceptions. Most notably, the earlier creatures lacked the ball-and-socket hips of later dinosaurs. While they coexisted for millions of years, true dinosaurs would eventually outcompete their predecessors.