Fossil Experts Form Fascinating New Theory On Dinosaur Extinction
Many would agree that a single cataclysmic event wiped out the dinosaurs in sudden and dramatic fashion. This notion has been instilled in people's minds ever since they first heard about the hulking reptilian creatures.
While the aforementioned is still the widely-accepted reason why dinosaurs became extinct, some fossil experts aren't quick to point the finger on one catastrophic incident. They believe dinosaurs were already going extinct even before the massive wipe out.
Dinosaurs Had A Longer Farewell Period
In a study published this week on the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, paleontologists from the University of Bristol and University of Reading argued that dinosaurs had a longer farewell period than what common knowledge dictates. Dinosaurs were on the decline approximately 50 million years before becoming completely extinct.
"We were not expecting this result," said Dr. Manabu Sakamoto of the University of Reading in a statement shared on EurekAlert. "While the asteroid impact is still the prime candidate for the dinosaurs' final disappearance, it is clear that they were already past their prime in an evolutionary sense."
Decline Didn't Affect Dinosaurs As A Whole
Sakamoto clarified that the decline was not universal. This means that dinosaurs wouldn't have faded into obscurity had the cataclysmic event not occurred.
Duck-billed dinosaurs in particular were allegedly on the rise just before the massive wipe out. Despite the rapid decline of several individual families, dinosaurs as a whole were doing relatively fine prior to their untimely extinction.
Stephen Brusatte, a paleontologist at the University of Edinburgh, said researchers, himself included, have a tendency to overthink when it comes to dinosaur extinction. For him, an asteroid impact is enough of a reason to explain why dinosaurs became extinct.
"The way I see it, it came down to the asteroid. Simple as that," Brussate told The Atlantic. "Diversity declines may have made dinosaurs somewhat more susceptible to the asteroid impact, but probably nothing was going to save them."