Q:

When were the dinosaurs born?

A:

Quick Answer

The earliest conclusive evidence of the evolution of dinosaurs dates their origins to 230 million years ago. They are believed to have evolved from other reptilian species and developed certain defining characteristics, such as specialized hip and leg bones.

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Full Answer

Earlier fossils have been discovered which may predate previously uncovered archaeological evidence. A previously unknown genus of archosaur could push the time period back another 10 million years, while footprints discovered in Europe may place the date back to 250 million years. So little evidence remains from so long ago that it makes it difficult to pinpoint the exact date, year or millennium for a given animal type to have evolved.

What is known, as of 2014, is that the animals referred to as dinosaurs first appeared in the late Triassic period and remained in existence as a group for more than 190 million years. This has been determined based on the depth at which fossils have been found and through the use of radio-carbon dating which allows archaeologists to determine how old an item is based on the constant decay rate of carbon isotopes contained in all matter on Earth. This method is also used in geology when determining the age of rock formations or sedimentary layers.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    Were there any dinosaurs that swam?

    A:

    True dinosaurs were not swimmers. There were a number of very large aquatic reptiles that lived during the age of the dinosaur, but they were not technically dinosaurs. These creatures belonged to one of several other groups, such as ichthyosaurs, plesiosaurs and mosasaurs, which were types of marine reptiles.

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  • Q:

    Why are dinosaurs extinct?

    A:

    There are a few well-researched theories about why dinosaurs are extinct; one of the most prominent theories hypothesizes that a massive asteroid impact killed off the dinosaurs. Another states that heavy volcanic eruptions across the Earth may have been responsible.

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  • Q:

    Is it possible to clone dinosaurs?

    A:

    It is very unlikely that a dinosaur can be cloned. The essential element, a complete dinosaur genome, is extremely unlikely to exist after 65 million years. Genetic material is made out of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), and it breaks down over time.

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  • Q:

    Were dinosaurs mammals?

    A:

    Though there were some dinosaurs with mammal-like qualities, dinosaurs were actually reptiles; however, though the word "dinosaur" roughly translates to "terrible lizard" in Greek, dinosaurs were not actually lizards, either. Dinosaurs represent a distinct group of reptiles that is now extinct, though there may be some living animals, including some birds, that are distant evolutionary relatives of the dinosaurs. The animals described as being mammal-like dinosaurs were actually early relatives of the dinosaur, and they were the dominant land animal about 260 million years ago, as opposed to the dinosaur, which was the dominant land animal about 231 million years ago.

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