Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Untangling the dinosaur family tree


This is a preview of subscription content

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.

Figure 1: Results of the reanalysis of a revised dataset on early dinosaur relationships.


  1. 1

    Seeley, H. G. On the classification of the fossil animals commonly named Dinosauria. Proc. R. Soc. Lond. 43, 165–171 (1887)

    Google Scholar 

  2. 2

    Gauthier, J. in The Origin of Birds and the Evolution of Flight (ed. Padian, K. ) Ch. 8, 1–55 (Memoir California Academy of Science, 1986)

    Google Scholar 

  3. 3

    Benton, M. J. & Clark, J. M. in The Phylogeny and Classification of the Tetrapods (ed. Benton, M. J. ), 295–338 (Clarendon, 1988)

  4. 4

    Sereno, P. C. Phylogeny of the bird-hipped dinosaurs (order Ornithischia). Natl Geogr. Soc. Res. 2, 234–256 (1986)

    Google Scholar 

  5. 5

    Baron, M. G., Norman, D. B. & Barrett, P. M. A new hypothesis of dinosaur relationships and early dinosaur evolution. Nature 543, 501–506 (2017)

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  6. 6

    Langer, M. C., Ezcurra, M. D., Bittencourt, J. S. & Novas, F. E. The origin and early evolution of dinosaurs. Biol. Rev. Camb. Philos. Soc. 85, 55–110 (2010)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. 7

    Brusatte, S. L. et al. The origin and early radiation of dinosaurs. Earth Sci. Rev. 101, 68–100 (2010)

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  8. 8

    Langer, M. C. & Benton, M. J. Early dinosaurs: a phylogenetic study. J. Syst. Palaeontol. 4, 309–358 (2006)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. 9

    Nesbitt, S. J. et al. A complete skeleton of a Late Triassic saurischian and the early evolution of dinosaurs. Science 326, 1530–1533 (2009)

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  10. 10

    Ezcurra, M. D. A new early dinosaur (Saurischia: Sauropodomorpha) from the Late Triassic of Argentina: a reassessment of dinosaur origin and phylogeny. J. Syst. Palaeontol. 8, 371–425 (2010)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. 11

    Dzik, J. A beaked herbivorous archosaur with dinosaur affinities from the early Late Triassic of Poland. J. Vertebr. Paleontol. 23, 556–574 (2003)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. 12

    Cabreira, S. F. et al. A unique Late Triassic dinosauromorph assemblage reveals dinosaur ancestral anatomy and diet. Curr. Biol. 26, 3090–3095 (2016)

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  13. 13

    Butler, R. J ., Smith, R. M. H. & Norman, D. B. A primitive ornithischian dinosaur from the Late Triassic of South Africa, and the early evolution and diversification of Ornithischia. Proc. R. Soc. Lond. B 274, 2041–2046 (2007)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. 14

    Bakker, R. T. The Dinosaur Heresies (William Morrow, 1986)

  15. 15

    Cooper, M. R. A revision of the ornithischian dinosaur Kangnasaurus coetzeei Haughton, with a classification of the Ornithischia. Ann. S. Afr. Mus. 95, 281–317 (1985)

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information




M.C.L., M.D.E., O.W.M.R., M.J.B., B.W.M., F.E.N. and S.L.B. designed the project. M.C.L., M.D.E., O.W.M.R., M.J.B., F.K., B.W.M., F.E.N. and D.P. rescored the data matrix. M.D.E. and D.P. conducted the phylogenetic analyses. M.J.B., B.W.M. and D.P. conducted the biogeographic analyses. All authors discussed the data, wrote and approved the final manuscript (including the Supplementary Information).

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Max C. Langer.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Supplementary information

Supplementary information

This file contains Supplementary Text and Data, Supplementary Figures 1–17 and Supplementary References. (PDF 4121 kb)

PowerPoint slides

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Langer, M., Ezcurra, M., Rauhut, O. et al. Untangling the dinosaur family tree. Nature 551, E1–E3 (2017).

Download citation

Further reading


By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing