sábado, maio 09, 2009

Entrevistas aos bochechos: 6ª pergunta ao Paul Upchurch

RA: So, the other area of your research is to look specifically at the evolution of sauropods. Could you outline in broad terms the evolution of the group?

PU: Essentially, they appeared in the Late Triassic; at that stage we call them sauropodomorphs. They are generally small animals, 1-2meters long, they are bipedal… but they still show one or two key features of the sauropodomorphs: relatively long neck, a small head on that neck and some changes to the jaws and teeth, which is suggesting that they are changing from carnivores to omnivores or omnivores to herbivores. Then in the Jurassic, those small forms disappear and we see a trend towards a larger and larger body size, quadrupedality, elongation of the neck and further modifications of the skull. So we get a radiation of the true sauropods, which by the Jurassic have achieved gigantic body size (20-25m). We also see a radiation of many types of sauropods: diplodocoids, early titanosaurs, brachiosaurs, and so on… Then, at the Jurassic/Cretaceous boundary there seems to be a crisis, about 80% of the sauropods go extinct, mainly the ones with the very large spoon-shape teeth. In the Late Cretaceous, sauropod faunas are dominated by the titanosaurs. There are other types like the rebbachisaurs – that were unusual types of diplodocoids – but they radiate again, the also become very diverse. By the end of the Cretaceous there were about 50 or 60 titanosaur genera, which is about one third of sauropod diversity. At the K-T boundary all of those disappear.

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