“Beyond our wildest dreams”: Scientists find fossil from dinosaur that died the day the asteroid hit

Scientists believe they have discovered a petrified time capsule from the exact day the Earth transformed from a lush, dinosaur-surrounded world into a soot-covered apocalyptic hell landscape. Within that time capsule was a very well-preserved dinosaur bone from a dinosaur that scientists believe died that spring day about 66 million years ago.

The discovery, made at the Tanis Cemetery in North Dakota, will be discussed in more detail in a BBC documentary narrated by David Attenborough entitled “Dinosaurs: The Final Day”. A version of the documentary will be broadcast on PBS in the US next month. While the results have not yet been published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal, researchers are very excited about the discovery and the prospect of what information it may contain.

“The time resolution we can achieve in this place is beyond our wildest dreams … this really should not exist, and it’s absolutely insanely beautiful,” Phillip Manning, a professor of natural history at the University of Manchester, told BBC Radio 4’s Today according to the BBC. to The Guardian. “I have never dreamed in my entire career that I would come to look at something a) so time-limited; and b) so beautiful and also tells such a wonderful story.”

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Manning called the leg “the ultimate dinosaur drumstick”.

“When Sir David watched”[the leg], he smiled and said ‘it is an impossible fossil’. And I agreed, “Manning said.

Manning added that the researchers also discovered the remains of fish that had inhaled remnants of the Chicxulub crater, a heavily eroded 90-mile wide impact site located on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, which is largely believed to be the site of origin of what triggered the mass. extinction event. While there is scientific consensus on it something hit Earth that fateful day, there are various theories about exactly what – most people think it was either an asteroid or a comet.


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Researchers were able to date the find due to the presence of debris that rained down for a period just after the impact occurred.

“We have so many details with this site that tell us what happened moment by moment, it’s almost like watching it unfold in film,” said Robert DePalma, a University of Manchester graduate student who led the Tanis tomb. “You look at the pillar of rock, you look at the fossils there, and it brings you back to that day.”

Additional fossilized remains that the researchers found were the remains of a turtle, skin from a triceratops, a pterosaur embryo inside its egg, and perhaps a fragment on the bump itself. According to the New York Times, the fragments within two of the spherules were “wildly different,” DePalma said.

“They were not enriched with calcium and strontium as we would have expected,” said DePalma, who could suggests that the impactor was an asteroid. However, researchers will not jump to conclusions until the samples have been thoroughly analyzed and published in peer-reviewed journals.

“This is like a dinosaur CSI,” DePalma said. “Now, as a scientist, I do not want to say, ‘Yes, 100 percent, we have an animal that died in the shock wave.’ [but] “Is it compatible?” Yes.”

The mass extinction caused by the Chixclub influence led to the end of the Cretaceous – and the end of the dinosaurs – and paved the way for mammals, which at the time were mostly small, rat-like creatures, to become one of the dominant large life forms on Earth. . The extinction killed about 75 percent of life on Earth, although some marine and burrowing animals, including early mammals, were better suited to await the shortwave of overheated air caused by the impact that floated across the planet.

Although the exact date is not known, it is remarkable how much scientists have been able to extract from evidence of what happened on the day of the great extinction. At the same burial site, DePalma’s team found earlier fish specimens, which appear to have died on the day of the impact, and whose bone structure indicates that it was spring or early summer when the collision took place.

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