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科学美国人60秒:聚集——可能有助于恐龙主宰地球

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Christopher Intagliata: This is Scientific American’s 60-Second Science. I'm Christopher Intagliata.

Christopher Intagliata:这里是《科学美国人》的 60 秒科学。我是Christopher Intagliata。

Just as cows, sheep and bison roam in herds today, so, too, did plant-eating dinosaurs. And it appears they began flocking together much earlier than we used to think—just as the Jurassic period began to unfold.

就像今天的牛、羊和野牛成群游荡一样,食草恐龙也是如此。看起来他们开始聚集在一起的时间比我们以前想象的——侏罗纪时期要早的多。

Jahandar Ramezani: This is a critical time in the evolution of dinosaurs. This is pretty early on. So the idea is: this type of behavior, this social behavior, may have actually contributed to the evolutionary success of dinosaurs.

Jahandar Ramezani: 这是恐龙进化的关键时期。实际上相当早期。所以有种观点是:这种行为,这种社会行为,实际上可能促成了恐龙的进化成功。

Intagliata: Jahandar Ramezani of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is a geochronologist. In other words ...

Intagliata:麻省理工学院的 Jahandar Ramezani是一位地质年代学家。换句话说 ...

Ramezani: I date things. And I date old things, things in the millions and billions of years—not the really young stuff.

Ramezani: 我确定事物的年代。 我对古老的事物,对数百万、数十亿年前的事物进行年代测定,而不是那些事实上年轻的事物。

Intagliata: In this case, Ramezani was dating tiny zircon crystals in a fossil bed in Patagonia, near the southern tip of South America. Those crystals dated back to nearly 193 million years ago.

Intagliata:在这个案例中,Ramezani 正在南美洲南端附近的巴塔哥尼亚化石床中对微小的锆石晶体进行测年。这些晶体可以追溯到近 1.93 亿年前。

And the fossils preserved there—an array of nearly 200 specimens of a plant eater named Mussaurus patagonicus—provide a snapshot of the dinosaur at all stages of its life. Eggs and hatchlings, clumps of juveniles and then—further out—adults.

保存在那里的化石——由近 200 个名为Mussaurus patagonicus的食草动物标本组成的阵列——提供了恐龙生命各个阶段的快照。卵和刚孵化的幼崽,成群的幼崽恐龙化石,远远多于成年的恐龙化石。

Ramezani: So this kind of undisturbed distribution of fossils and this kind of age segregation basically shows these dinosaurs had a social structure. They lived in a colony. And everybody has got things to do—duties—with respect to the young and the juveniles.

Ramezani: 所以这种化石的不受干扰的分布和这种年龄隔离基本上表明这些恐龙具有社会结构。他们住在一个群落。不管是年轻人还是青少年,每个人都有事情要做——职责。

Intagliata: The study—in the journal Scientific Reports—suggests dinosaurs developed complex social behavior 40 million years earlier than previously thought. And Ramezani says the work also advances long-standing questions about the social structure of dinosaurs. [Diego Pol et al., Earliest evidence of herd-living and age segregation amongst dinosaurs]

Intagliata: 这项发表在《科学报告》杂志上的研究表明,恐龙发展出复杂的社会行为比以前认为的要早 4000 万年。Ramezani说,这项工作还提出了关于恐龙社会结构的长期问题。[Diego Pol 等人,恐龙群居和年龄隔离的最早证据]

Ramezani: Was it more like primitive taxa like the crocodiles? Or did it look like more evolved types of animals like birds and mammals? And we’re beginning to see that, yes, it looks more like a mammal- or bird-type colony.

Ramezani: 它是不是像鳄鱼这样的原始分类群?还是它看起来像是鸟类和哺乳动物等更进化的动物类型?我们开始发现,是的,它看起来更像是哺乳动物或鸟类的群落。

Intagliata: Whatever type of social structure it was, the scientists hypothesize that it helped large plant eaters first spread across the planet—kick-starting tens of millions of years of dominion on Earth.

Intagliata:无论它是什么类型的社会结构,科学家们假设它帮助大型食草动物首先在地球上扩张——开始了它们在地球上数千万年的统治。

Christopher Intagliata: This is Scientific American’s 60-Second Science. I'm Christopher Intagliata.

Just as cows, sheep and bison roam in herds today, so, too, did plant-eating dinosaurs. And it appears they began flocking together much earlier than we used to think—just as the Jurassic period began to unfold.

Jahandar Ramezani: This is a critical time in the evolution of dinosaurs. This is pretty early on. So the idea is: this type of behavior, this social behavior, may have actually contributed to the evolutionary success of dinosaurs.

Intagliata: Jahandar Ramezani of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is a geochronologist. In other words ...

Ramezani: I date things. And I date old things, things in the millions and billions of years—not the really young stuff.

Intagliata: In this case, Ramezani was dating tiny zircon crystals in a fossil bed in Patagonia, near the southern tip of South America. Those crystals dated back to nearly 193 million years ago.

And the fossils preserved there—an array of nearly 200 specimens of a plant eater named Mussaurus patagonicus—provide a snapshot of the dinosaur at all stages of its life. Eggs and hatchlings, clumps of juveniles and then—further out—adults.

Ramezani: So this kind of undisturbed distribution of fossils and this kind of age segregation basically shows these dinosaurs had a social structure. They lived in a colony. And everybody has got things to do—duties—with respect to the young and the juveniles.

Intagliata: The study—in the journal Scientific Reports—suggests dinosaurs developed complex social behavior 40 million years earlier than previously thought. And Ramezani says the work also advances long-standing questions about the social structure of dinosaurs. [Diego Pol et al., Earliest evidence of herd-living and age segregation amongst dinosaurs]

Ramezani: Was it more like primitive taxa like the crocodiles? Or did it look like more evolved types of animals like birds and mammals? And we’re beginning to see that, yes, it looks more like a mammal- or bird-type colony.

Intagliata: Whatever type of social structure it was, the scientists hypothesize that it helped large plant eaters first spread across the planet—kick-starting tens of millions of years of dominion on Earth.


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