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      The origin and early radiation of dinosaurs

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      Earth-Science Reviews

      Elsevier BV

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          The evolution of dinosaurs.

          The ascendancy of dinosaurs on land near the close of the Triassic now appears to have been as accidental and opportunistic as their demise and replacement by therian mammals at the end of the Cretaceous. The dinosaurian radiation, launched by 1-meter-long bipeds, was slower in tempo and more restricted in adaptive scope than that of therian mammals. A notable exception was the evolution of birds from small-bodied predatory dinosaurs, which involved a dramatic decrease in body size. Recurring phylogenetic trends among dinosaurs include, to the contrary, increase in body size. There is no evidence for co-evolution between predators and prey or between herbivores and flowering plants. As the major land masses drifted apart, dinosaurian biogeography was molded more by regional extinction and intercontinental dispersal than by the breakup sequence of Pangaea.
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            Synchronizing rock clocks of Earth history.

            Calibration of the geological time scale is achieved by independent radioisotopic and astronomical dating, but these techniques yield discrepancies of approximately 1.0% or more, limiting our ability to reconstruct Earth history. To overcome this fundamental setback, we compared astronomical and 40Ar/39Ar ages of tephras in marine deposits in Morocco to calibrate the age of Fish Canyon sanidine, the most widely used standard in 40Ar/39Ar geochronology. This calibration results in a more precise older age of 28.201 +/- 0.046 million years ago (Ma) and reduces the 40Ar/39Ar method's absolute uncertainty from approximately 2.5 to 0.25%. In addition, this calibration provides tight constraints for the astronomical tuning of pre-Neogene successions, resulting in a mutually consistent age of approximately 65.95 Ma for the Cretaceous/Tertiary boundary.
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              Inferring evolutionary processes from phylogenies

               Mark D. Pagel (1997)
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Earth-Science Reviews
                Earth-Science Reviews
                Elsevier BV
                00128252
                July 2010
                July 2010
                : 101
                : 1-2
                : 68-100
                Article
                10.1016/j.earscirev.2010.04.001
                © 2010

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