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Polar dinosaurs not different from others

Aug. 4, 2011 at 9:14 PM   |   Comments

BOZEMAN, Mont., Aug. 4 (UPI) -- Small dinosaurs that lived near the South Pole weren't much different from dinosaurs that lived everywhere else on the planet, a U.S. researcher says.

The finding may help explain why dinosaurs were so successful in the domination of Earth for almost 160 million years, Montana State University graduate student Holly Woodward said.

"This tells us something very interesting; that basically from the very start, early dinosaurs, or even the ancestors of dinosaurs, evolved a physiology that allowed an entire group of animals to successfully exploit a multitude of environmental conditions for millions of years," Woodward said.

A previous study of polar dinosaurs had proposed some hibernated during the coldest part of the year, a behavior that would have differentiated them from most of their relatives in the rest of the world.

But nothing in the fossils of polar dinosaurs she studied suggests such behaviors, Woodward said.

"If we were trying to find evidence of dinosaurs doing something much different physiologically, we would expect it to be found in dinosaurs from an extreme environment such as the South Pole," Woodward said. "But based on bone tissues, dinosaurs living within the Antarctic Circle were physiologically similar to dinosaurs living everywhere else."

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