A major new paper on the dinosaur family tree has shaken up what scientists thought they knew about the prehistoric creatures.
For the last 130 years, dinosaurs had been divided into two groups by their hip bones – with lizard-hipped meat-eaters like T. Rex on one side and plant-loving bird-hipped beasts like the stegosaurus on the other.
But now scientists from Cambridge say they think these two types should actually be grouped together.
I'm a child of the 90s, so this is what a "radical" new theory on dinosaurs makes me expect. pic.twitter.com/BEMdSewdNo
— Brian Switek (@Laelaps) March 22, 2017
One of the paper’s authors, Dr David Norman, said his study’s repercussions would be “surprising and profound”.
The paper, published in Nature, also suggests that the earliest dinosaurs were small, ate both meat and veg, walked on two legs and had grasping hands.
It also disputes the commonly-held view that dinosaurs originated in an early southern-hemisphere continent Gondwana.
People on Twitter are going wild.
— Neil Kelley (@microecos) March 23, 2017
Pluto ain't a planet. Dinosaurs are named wrong. McDonald's All Day Brkfst doesn't include bagels. My life is a lie. pic.twitter.com/tbYYGUhwh0
— Purple Haze, Trk #3 (@LongLiveWallace) March 23, 2017
For their calculations, the scientists looked at 457 parts of the anatomy of 74 early dinosaur families.
From these observations they split the dinosaurs into two new groups – one of which included the bird and lizard-hipped animals together in a new group called the Ornithoscelida.
Ironically, before, they thought birds had descended from the lizard-hipped branch of dinosaurs rather than the bird-hipped one, so now the evolution of birds makes a lot more sense.