Some 66 million years ago, non-avian dinosaurs were wiped off the face of the Earth by an asteroid that wiped out not only them, but more than half of the world’s species in a mass extinction event (from Cretaceous-Paleogene) that paved the way for the emergence of mammals and the appearance of humans, later.
Following the impact of the Chicxulub asteroid, which crashed into a shallow sea in what is now the Gulf of Mexico, a huge cloud of dust and soot was shot out, triggering global climate change. The event emitted such colossal energy that its devastation was felt for many miles.
The importance of this new fossil
Very few dinosaur remains have been found in rocks that record the last few thousand years before the impact. Now, a team of paleontologists from the University of Manchester (UK) believe they have found an extraordinary sight on the last day of the dinosaurs after discovering the fossil of a Thescelosaurus , a type of small herbivorous dinosaur that they believe died that same day. that hit the Chicxulub asteroid . The leg, perfectly preserved, so much so that it even includes remains of the animal’s skin, can be precisely dated to the time the asteroid hit Earth 66 million years ago, experts say, due to the presence of debris from the impact. immediate.
The discoveries were made by Manchester University paleontologist Robert DePalma at the Tanis archaeological site, found in 2008 and dubbed “the dinosaur graveyard”.
According to scientists, all the fossils discovered at the Tanis site were killed and buried on the same day the asteroid hit Earth, marking the end of the reign of the dinosaurs and the advent of mammals. Its position, along with its preservation, of the Thescelosarus in question have been used as evidence to support the suggestion that it died as a direct result of the asteroid impact.
Could we have found a dinosaur that saw the asteroid that wiped out its kind?
According to some experts, the claim that this fossil comes from the last day of the dinosaurs is controversial. Many have accepted the discovery, but others say that there is not yet enough evidence to make this claim with any real confidence. It could have been exhumed by the impact of the asteroid and be mixed with everything else later, they point out.
If so, it would be the first physical evidence that dinosaurs were massacred by an asteroid impact at the end of the Cretaceous period.
The scientists will present their discoveries in a documentary presented by the famous British scientist Sir David Attenborough (who is 95 years old and still active) that the BBC will broadcast next week and where they will unravel new mysteries about this remarkable find. The nature documentary is called: Dinosaurs: The Final Day . According to the team of experts accompanied by a large team of BBC journalists, they have also found the fossilized remains of a turtle skewered with a wooden stake and small mammals and their burrows, as well as the skin of a triceratops or an embryo of pterosaur inside its egg.
The researchers will submit all of their discoveries for peer review so they can be confirmed, before being published.
Reference: Philip Manning. Manchester University. /BBCNews