A mass extinction event about 202 million years ago that wiped out big reptiles of the time, coinciding with a series of sudden global chills, paved the way for dinosaurs to take over the planet, a new study has suggested.
The research, based on recent excavations in the remote desert of northwest China’s Junggar Basin found the first physical evidence that during the Triassic period (252 million to 201 million years ago), dinosaur species of the time – a minor group relegated to the polar regions – regularly endured freezing conditions.
“Dinosaurs were there during the Triassic under the radar all the time. The key to their eventual dominance was very simple. They were fundamentally cold-adapted animals. When it got cold everywhere, they were ready, and other animals weren’t,” study lead author Paul Olsen from Columbia University said.