The research is the latest effort in a long history of research trying to find out what happened to the dinosaurs and what led to their demise. Initially, it favored the evolution of more dinosaur species, but smaller land areas eventually restricted population growth.
The idea that the dinosaurs suffered under harsh conditions prior to the asteroid impact is not novel. If we’re really in the midst of sixth mass extinction, we had better hope we have more luck than the creatures that came before us.
Paleontologists analyzed fossils of dinosaurs from the point they first emerged on Earth 231 million years ago to the point they went extinct.
That isn’t to say that there wasn’t some massive eruption or collision that finally killed them. The new drilling project aims to gather information at various levels of the crater till June this year.
The research, the authors believe, could resolve a longstanding controversy among palaeontologists. “So there might have been a switch over in any case without the asteroid impact”, Benton was quoted as saying by BBC News. “Paleontologists have debated aspects of the impact’s ecological fallout ranging from blazing wildfires to an impenetrable cloud of debris in the atmosphere”. He suspects that you’d see the same pattern in other groups that suddenly rose to power, including mammals like us.
There was a marked reduction in their ability to replace extinct species with new ones, which made them vulnerable to extinction, and they couldn’t recover fast enough from a meteorite impact in modern-day Mexico.
Dinosaurs were becoming extinct well before an asteroid struck the Earth, wiping them out, according to a new study.
“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”, Sakamoto said. At 114 million years ago, during the early Cretaceous period, species of sauropodomorphs were going extinct faster than new species were emerging, the researchers found.
Researchers say the horned ceratopsians and the duck-billed hadrosaur groups were fading in both number of species and variation in body shapes, but the other dinosaurs were not.
The results suggest that the total number of species declined in general and the number of some, like the long-necked dinosaurs, were dying out even quicker than the family of Tyrannosaurus rex. He also noted that one group in decline still lives on in its descendants, today’s birds.
The research team suggested that dinosaurs were declining over a long period of time due to their inability to cope with the changes on earth.
“This implies that any group of animals that is under prolonged periods of high extinction rate can undergo mass extinction should there be a catastrophic event“, said study lead researcher Manabu Sakamoto, a postdoctoral research assistant of biological sciences at the University of Reading in the United Kingdom.