Volcanoes may have cleared the way for dinosaurs to take over the earth.

A team of researchers is presenting compelling evidence that volcanic events most likely helped the dinosaurs take over the planet, at least for a while.

The Triassic Period, which began 250 million years ago, was a time of extensive ecological change.

While dinosaurs had emerged in this time period, they were [like the Teleocrater rhadinus archosaur]  skinnier, more reptilian-looking, less like the toothy box office hits we see in movies. 

But it was during this time that dinosaurs diversified on their way to becoming wondrous beasts like Tyrannosaurus rex or Triceratops.

They understand what drove this transformation, scientists looked at a phase during the Triassic Period known as the Carnian Pluvial Episode, from 234 million to 232 million years ago, when there was an increase in global temperature, humidity and rainfall.

The researchers were able to match four intense phases of volcanic activity with changes of the Carnian Pluvial Episode.

Jing Lu, a researcher at the China University of Mining and Technology and a co-author of the study, said that these eruptions ''were powerful enough to drive evolutionary processes during the Triassic.''

Plant species and some animal species that couldn't adapt to the more humid environment went extinct.

''These changes freed up the ecological space for other groups of organisms, like dinosaurs, to thrive,'' said Jason Hilton, a Paleobotanist in England. [Sam Jones]


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