More species of dinosaurs are to be discovered than have already been found

Paleontologists say many more fossils of dinosaurs are buried underground than have been uncovered thus far and most of them belong to entirely new species.
Loukia Papadopoulos
Representational image of a dinosaur footprint.jpg
Representational image of a dinosaur footprint.

piola666/iStock  

It’s never too late to discover new things. According to a recent report by the Smithsonian published on Friday this statement is true of dinosaurs.

It seems that much more of the animals are buried underground waiting to be discovered than have already been found and most are from entirely new species.

“One of my go-to lines whenever I’m giving a public talk or writing a pop science article or book iis that we’re in the golden age of paleontology,” told the news outlet University of Edinburgh paleontologist Stephen Brusatte.

Paleontologists have been unearthing various non-avian dinosaurs that roamed our planet between 66 million and 235 million years ago and they claim that more dinosaurs remain unknown than have been uncovered.

“Not all of these new dinosaurs are just another flavor of sauropod or stegosaur, not just another type of tyrannosaur that differs from other tyrannosaurs by a tiny bump on its snout or an extra tooth,” Brusatte explained. 

Some of these new finds are of species completely unknown to paleontologists thus far and their discovery can alter the big picture of how dinosaur evolution unfolded through the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous Periods.

Just this month, two new types of species were discovered; one which belonged to a group called rhabdodontomorphs that was only recognized in 2016 and another beaked dinosaur called Gonkoken from Chile.

“Of course there are more groups out there,” told the Smithsonian New York Institute of Technology paleontologist Karen Poole.

A 2006 study speculated that to date paleontologists had found less than 30 percent of all non-avian dinosaurs and that finding 90 percent of those species would require another 100 years.

These new species are likely smaller dinosaurs as large ones were often found first because their remains were more resilient to scavenging, weathering and destruction. 

Paleontologists are now seeking to map out entire ecosystems of the animals and have shown a particular interest in the often-ignored smaller dinosaurs.

The new discoveries have led to paleontologists reshuffling and refining the dinosaur family tree several times, creating new patterns as discoveries are made.

These new discoveries are not only found in rocks but can also be spotted in overlooked museum collections or through examining previously known fossils.

 “There are bound to be dinosaurs we don’t know about,” Poole explained, “and some we may still find, either through new fossils or new analyses of what we already know.”

This means there may be even more undiscovered fossils than what paleontologists previously expected. 

“Today, about 14,000 dinosaur species live on as birds,” Brusatte noted. “Do the math and we’re probably talking about millions of dinosaur species that once lived, maybe tens of millions.”