Scientists have been dealing with quite a ruckus this week as a new paper was published, suggesting that how dinosaurs are classified may be very wrong.
In 1888, Harry Seeley, a paleontologist, said that all dinosaurs could be places into two categories: bidr-hipped (Ornithischia) and lizard-hipped (Saurischia). Since then, the premise has been widely accepted and applied, The Verge reports.
But recent research says this division is incorrect, challenging the most basic dinosaur genealogy, and giving new insight into the evolution of the dinosaurs. It puts forth the premise that dinosaurs may have originated in the Northern Hemisphere, and not in South America after all, the New York Times reports.
Under Seeley’s classification, bird-hipped dinosaurs included ones with horns and amror, such as the Triceratops and Stegosaurus. The lizard-hipped ones were theropods like the T-rex and sauropodomorphs like the Apatosaurus.
Matthew Baron, a doctoral candidate at the University of Cambridge, examined dinosaur fossils from all over the world and catalogued them based on 457 various characteristics. Then he used a computer program to analyze the fossils. Based on the features that presented, the computer program suggested the classifications that made the most sense – and they were different from those that already existed.
The new dinosaur family tree places the theropods, which were classified as lizard-hipped, into the same group as the bird-hipped dinosaurs.
This new proposal to change dinosaur classifications is bound to face an uphill battle, scientists say. Kevin Padian, a biologist at the University of California, Berkeley, said,
It’s a radical proposal with a reasonable basis but no one expects it will be the last word.
Padian added that dinosaur classification can be difficult, because there have been quite a number of discoveries in the past decades that have shown how plenty of the dinosaurs have evolved. This makes putting them on the family tree trickier, even while this new classification scheme may have reasonable evidence supporting it.
The study was published in the journal Nature.