Berkeley Researchers Make Startling Dinosaur Discovery
BERKELEY, Calif., Jul. 19, 2007 (KGO) (KGO) -- Some U.C. Berkeley paleantologists have made a startling dinosaur discovery. What they've found in New Mexico will change the way scientists think about dinosaurs and the world they lived in, and perhaps other species as well.
Video shot by U.C. Berkeley researchers shows the excavation site in northern New Mexico. The area is called Ghost Ranch, and in a small, 20-by-10-foot site, paleontologists are discovering ghosts of dinosaurs and their ancestors living together about 215 million years ago.
Until now, there has never been evidence of all these different generations living together at the same time.
Randy Irmis, U.C. Berkeley: "This has some impact on how we interpret the origin and early diversification of the dinosaurs. It shows they did not quickly replace or out-compete other animals."
U.C. Merced paleontologist Matt Wedel has worked with the researchers in New Mexico. He showed ABC7 some of the fossilized bones found at the site.
Matt Wedel, U.C. Merced: "That's what's really exciting here is we've got some of the earliest dinosaurs in the world, not the earliest, but some of the earliest and living alongside them we've got their more primitive relatives, things we call dinosaur-morphs. You might think of them as being as sort of like dinosaur uncles."
A small thigh bone of a brand new dinosaur precurser was found at the site. It was about the size of a rabbit and was a very fast runner. Before now, its closest relative has only been found in Argentina.
The discoveries at Ghost Ranch will help researchers with an unsolved mystery. Why did the dinosaurs prevail while other species died out?
Matt Wedel, U.C. Merced: "We can use these links between animals in different places and different times to build up a more global picture, and it's that picture that's going to help us answer those really interesting questions about why dinosaurs succeeded."
Wedel says the Ghost Ranch site has just begun to yield up its treasures. So far, 1,300 fossils have been found. Researchers have yet to find a complete skeleton.
For more information on U.C. Berkeley's dinosaur investigations, click here.
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