You’ve most likely heard the enjoyable incontrovertible fact that birds are descended from dinosaurs earlier than. Today’s birds are, in actual fact, direct descendants of a gaggle of carnivorous dinosaurs referred to as “theropods.” The theropods are the exact same group of dinosaurs that gave us the formidable Tyrannosaurus Rex. Although they’re descended from this household, trendy birds are fairly totally different from their reptilian ancestors. That’s why the latest discovery of seemingly avian footprints relationship again 210 million years is such a shocking one.

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Birds first started to appear in one thing resembling their trendy kind roughly 150 million years in the past. This implies that the footprints, if they honestly date again 210 million years, are 60 million years too early. So, are they actually chicken footprints?

The reply might be not so easy. Found at a paleontological website in Lesotho, the prints are undeniably bird-like, even to the untrained eye. They function three forward-facing splayed toes. All three toes are lengthy and slender, like that of a contemporary wading chicken. The tracks have been discovered alongside recognizable tracks from a dinosaur considered widespread to the world, Trisauropodiscus. But the bird-like tracks are distinct. They have but to be conclusively recognized as any singular dinosaur species. So what made them?

The quick reply is that they have been most likely made by an as-yet unidentified dinosaur. The tracks predate present fossil data of birds by so many hundreds of thousands of years that it’s vanishingly unlikely {that a} chicken as we all know it may have made them. What is feasible, nevertheless, is that these tracks signify a spot in our understanding of the evolutionary course of by which birds descended from theropods.

We know that trendy birds advanced from theropods over time. What we have no idea is precisely what every stage of this course of regarded like. These tracks could also be proof of the chance that bird-like ft advanced in theropods at a a lot earlier stage of this evolutionary course of than was beforehand thought.

Another principle means that there could have been further teams of bird-like dinosaurs who advanced related traits to the descendants of the theropods, however didn’t go on to evolve into trendy birds. This could be a wierd and mysterious instance of convergent evolution, made extra mysterious by the truth that no residing descendants of this thriller dinosaur group are recognized to exist at present.

With nothing however trendy genetics and historic fossils to information us, piecing collectively the mysteries of our planet’s previous is an countless means of studying and relearning. With every new discovery, our understanding of our planet and the historical past of the animals that inhabit it undergoes a brand new transformation.

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