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We know from fossil evidence that dinosaurs evolved from earlier reptiles, and also how the group evolved. For example, we know from fossils that the giant T. rex had much smaller ancestors.

The theory* of evolution helps us make sense of the evidence and build a picture of reptile evolution. * A scientific theory is not just a guess. It is an explanation based on a lot of evidence.

Variation is the key

All living things have special characteristics that help them to survive – sharp teeth or thick skin, for example, or the ability to stay still. These are called adaptations. In any species, individuals vary. They may have slightly sharper teeth, thicker skin, or can stay that little bit stiller than others. This may give them a better chance of survival.

Natural selection

Individuals that are better adapted are more likely to survive and reproduce. They leave more offspring like themselves, while the less well adapted ones die out. This process is called natural selection.

Over time, it gradually changes populations. And the same process of adaptation leads to new species being formed. This is evolution.

Evolution never stops. As the environment changes and new species arise, there are new challenges to face. Only some will survive.

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