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History of Mesozoic Life

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Dino Eve
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Dino Eve             
Credit: Conty
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Eodromaeus_400_AJV.png
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

Tyrannosaurus rex didn’t just appear. The loved and feared dinosaur evolved from a more general (and less scary) proto-dinosaur. T. rex’s ancestor might have been this gal, Eodromaeus murphi. Is this creature dino eve?

Amazing But True!

  • Eodromaeus murphi was probably a common ancestor of theropods.
  • Most theropods were meat-eaters.
  • A common ancestor of species is similar to a common ancestor of people. You and your first cousins have grandparents as your common ancestors.
  • Eodromaeus and Eoraptor lived about 230 million years ago in Western Gondwana (the southern continent that split from Pangaea).
  • Eoraptor was thought to be a theropod. Now Dr. Paul Sereno and some other paleontologists think that it’s a sauropod. Other researchers don’t agree.
  • Credit: Conty
    Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Eoraptor_resto._01.png
    License: CC BY-NC 3.0

    Early dinosaur Eoraptor was much smaller than the size of a human [Figure2]

     

Explore More

With the link below, learn more about Eodromaeus murphi. Then answer the following questions.

  1. What are the interesting characteristics of Eodromaeus murphi?
  2. What is a common ancestor in evolution?
  3. Why is Eodromaeus thought to be the common ancestor of carnivorous theropods including Tyrannosaurus rex?
  4. Why does Dr. Sereno think Eodromaeus and Eoraptor are the ancestors of two different branches of dinosaurs?
  5. Is it surprising that paleontologists don’t agree who Eodromaeus and Eoraptor are related to? Why or why not?

Image Attributions

  1. [1]^ Credit: Conty; Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Eodromaeus_400_AJV.png; License: CC BY-NC 3.0
  2. [2]^ Credit: Conty; Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Eoraptor_resto._01.png; License: CC BY-NC 3.0

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