Friday, September 12, 2008

Lucky break allowed dinosaurs to rule Earth: study

By Will Dunham

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Thanks to a big stroke of luck 200 million years ago, dinosaurs beat out a fearsome group of creatures competing for the right to rule the Earth, scientists said on Thursday.

Dinosaurs appeared about 230 million years ago, during the Triassic Period, and competed for 30 million years with a group of reptiles called crurotarsans, cousins of today's crocodiles that grew to huge sizes and looked a lot like dinosaurs.

Many scientists believed dinosaurs were simply superior to crurotarsans and fared better because the earliest dinosaurs walked on two legs, not four, and because they may have been warm-blooded.

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