How dinosaurs lived 193 million years ago

We know that certain dinosaurs were social. Now researchers are proving that the animals lived in herds much earlier than previously thought. The secret of their early evolutionary success?

At the "Walking with Dinosaurs" show in Geneva

MIT researchers have discovered an exceptionally well-preserved group of early dinosaurs that shows evidence of complex herd behaviour as early as 193 million years ago - 40 million years earlier than other records of dinosaur herds. So reports MIT on its website.

According to the report, researchers in southern Patagonia have excavated more than 100 Mussaurus patagonicus eggs and the partial skeletons of 80 juvenile and adult animals since 2013. In the process, they would have found dinosaur eggs and hatchlings in one location and skeletons of juveniles nearby. The remains of adult dinosaurs were found alone or in pairs throughout the site, MIT writes. This “age separation” is apparently a clear sign of a complex, herd-like social structure, according to the researchers: the dinosaurs probably worked in a community and laid their eggs in a common nesting site. The young gathered in “schools” while the adults went in search of food for the herd.

Clues to evolution

“We have now observed and documented this earliest social behaviour in dinosaurs,” Jahandar Ramezani, a researcher at MIT's Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, is quoted as saying. “This raises the question now of whether living in a herd may have had a major role in dinosaurs’ early evolutionary success. This gives us some clues to how dinosaurs evolved.”

To the MIT report

Written by: had

Photos: keystone

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