Challenging a 75-year-old notion about how and when reptiles evolved during the past 300 million-plus years involves a lot of camerawork, loads of CT scanning, and, most of all, thousands of miles of travel. Just check the stamps in Tiago R. Simões ‘ passport.
Simões is the Alexander Agassiz Postdoctoral Fellow in the lab of Harvard paleontologist Stephanie Pierce. From 2013 to 2018, he traveled to more than 20 countries and more than 50 different museums to take CT scans and photos of nearly 1,000 reptilian fossils, some hundreds of millions of years old. It amounted to about 400 days of active collection, helping form what is believed to be the largest available timeline on the evolution of major living and extinct reptile groups.
Now, a statistical analysis of that vast database is helping scientists better understand the evolution of these cold-blooded vertebrates by contradicting a widely held theory that