On the Origin of Dinosaurs

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Our understanding of the origin of dinosaurs has changed dramatically over the past 25 years, and in a new paper in the journal Earth-Science Reviews, paleontologists offer a glimpse into the dinosaurs’ rise to dominance.

For a long time, scientists believed that evolution was progressive, and that organisms evolved toward perfection through competition and superiority, much like the progression of human invention and technology. The prevailing wisdom has been that dinosaurs out-competed other similar reptile groups, taking over the world suddenly and by storm.

But life on Earth does not evolve like the personal computer, the internet, or cell phones do. Dinosaurs are not newspapers, or Kindle, and humans are not iPads.

Instead we evolve at random, governed only by the forces of natural selection. When applied to the study of dinosaurs, scientists realized they did not necessarily rise to dominance because of some innate superiority. Dinosaurs, the paper's authors suggest, dinosaurs were Triassic underdogs who owe their ascent to opportunism rather than superiority.

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