There was no Asia, Europe, Africa, or North America 200 million years ago. The first dinosaurs known to mankind lived on Pangaea, the only supercontinent that ever existed.
The genesis and distribution of early dinosaurs across Pangaea were influenced by several temperature zones, according to a Yale University study that was recently published.
The study’s authors looked at a group of dinosaur fossils found in Zimbabwe. They think the fossils are 230 million years old and come from the earliest known African, South American, and Asian Triassic dinosaur species. The fossils provide crucial information regarding the dispersal of dinosaurs, followed by subsequent amphibians, mammals, and reptiles across Pangaea.
What impact did climatic belts have on where dinosaurs were found on Pangaea?
There are currently seven distinct continents, and there are many geographical boundaries that determine how species are distributed over the world. We have geographical limitations to diffusion from continent to continent, principal researcher and postdoctoral fellow at Yale University Christopher Griffin explained to IE. Oceans are the most obvious example, but exceptionally high mountain ranges can also act as geographic barriers to dispersion. The oceans in particular did not affect these barriers during Pangaea.
Instead of geographic barriers, the authors contend that early dinosaur distribution was largely influenced by climatic ones. For example, the fossil evidence from Zimbabwe suggests that the earliest dinosaurs only lived in temperate, semi-arid to semi-humid locations in the southern hemisphere of Pangaea.
According to Griffin, the fossils come from the oldest dinosaurs ever discovered in Africa and are around the same age as the oldest dinosaurs ever discovered anyplace else on the globe. Surprisingly, there are also early dinosaur fossils in the collection that resemble those that lived in Central Africa, South America, and India. This suggests that at the beginning of their existence, the dinosaurs were confined to a specific region of southern Pangaea rather than having a global range.
Climate belts continue to have an impact on species distribution.
The researchers propose that for a considerable period, those enormous animals stayed confined to the climate zones that suited them and did not spread over Pangaea since the dispersal of the first dinosaurs was associated with climate barriers. It’s interesting to note that it also had an impact on the movement of other creatures that descended from the same era, including those that are still around today.
“The majority of the major families of land vertebrates originated during the Triassic Period” (lizards, dinosaurs, mammals, etc.). We anticipate that this hypothesis-driven approach, which uses climate and biogeography to perform focused paleontological fieldwork, will be valuable for understanding the emergence of these key groups across Pangaea.
Temperature and various climate zones continue to have a significant influence on the dissemination of fauna, even though there are already large geographic barriers like mountains and oceans that affect species distribution. Numerous studies show that climatic factors dominate in determining the evolution and distribution of animals in a region. The most striking and recent example is the dramatic shift in species distribution taking place owing to climate change worldwide.
Research from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, for instance, indicates that the rate of migration seen in insect, bird, and tree species is undergoing a significant change, but even this rate is insufficient to address the threats posed by climate change.
Returning to the previous study, Griffin and his group intend to explore additional sites in Zimbabwe. “The fact that the fossil record is just insufficient is the major drawback (of our research). Griffin told IE, “Discoveries can disprove long-held theories, but this is only a better motivation to keep looking.
The work has been released in the Nature journal.