Leeds, England – Scientists from the University of Bath and the University of Leeds found that dinosaurs left Europe during the Early Cretaceous Period without new families coming in to the continent. The study, published in the Journal of Biogeography, reveals that dinosaurs migrated out of Europe between 125 million and 100 million years ago.
Paleontologists and Earth scientists used the dinosaur record currently available to cross-map dinosaur families across space and time. The Paleobiology Database records every single dinosaur fossil that has been documented.
Lead researcher Alex Dunhill, a professor at Leeds’ School of Earth and Environment, said in a press release that the curious finding had no concrete explanation.
“It might be a real migratory pattern or it may be an artefact of the incomplete and sporadic nature of the dinosaur fossil record,” he commented, as reported by United Press International.
The research team also confirmed a previous hypothesis that dinosaurs continued to migrate to the other continents as Pangaea split apart. Dunhill and colleagues presume that land bridges temporary formed as a consequence of changes in sea levels and dinosaur families took advantage of the phenomenon to move to the various continents.
The professor admitted the massive structures such as one spanning from Indo-Madagascar to Australia were hard to imagine, but explained it was reasonable to think that plate tectonic produced the right conditions for temporary bridges to form given the timescales taken into account for the study, which is in the order of tens of millions of years.
Researchers mapped the movement of dinosaur families through the Mesozoic Era, which included the Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous periods, lasting roughly 180 million years. The resulting visual shows migration patterns. For the first time, network theory was used to visualize dinosaur migrations.
Commonly used in computer science to analyze Internet data, network theory is an analytical method that relies on a wide-angle perspective to look at the connections between groups, objects or ideas found in a larger system.
James Sciberras of the University of Bath and co-author of the paper commented that network theory has been widely studied in physics for quite a long time and that it’s finally being embraced in other fields. He added that considering most things in the context of an entire system will certainly lead to exciting new discoveries in the future.
Source: United Press International