(ORDO NEWS) — An international team of paleontologists conducted a study of 1,600 described species of terrestrial and aquatic animals that lived in North America during the last few million years of the Cretaceous, just before an asteroid hit 66 million years ago.
Scientists have tried to answer the question of why dinosaurs became extinct, but mammals, birds and other non-dominant species did not.
Why did the dinosaurs, the real kings of nature, die out, and the modest little mammals survived and took over the Earth? This question still haunts paleontologists.
Dinosaurs – perfectly adapted, powerful tyrannosaurs, triceratops, ankylosaurs – all died out, and small outcasts – mammals, birds, crocodiles, turtles, survived the catastrophe without much loss. Even vice versa. These outcasts as a result “won” the global ecosystem.
When the asteroid fell, the dinosaurs were the masters of our planet. But they were apparently too well adapted.
Almost perfect. When the global ecosystem suddenly and quickly changed, they simply did not have time to rebuild. This is the conclusion reached by an international team of paleontologists.
The kings of the earth and their heirs
Scientists from Spanish and Finnish universities, led by the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, conducted a study of 1,600 described species of terrestrial and aquatic animals that lived in North America in the last few million years of the Cretaceous, just before an asteroid hit 66 million years ago.
Reconstruction of ecological structures, food webs, ecological niches showed that dinosaurs were at the top everywhere. They were the kings of nature, all the rest got only the crumbs of their great feast.
As a result, the diet of mammals was, although rather unpretentious, but varied – there was not much choice.
They were ready for changes, even abrupt ones, they were ready to adapt. The same can be said about other non-dominant species – crocodiles or turtles.
When dinosaurs died out, it was mammals who occupied the vacant niche.
Scientists say that good adaptation is good as long as nothing changes, but if changes occur faster than the species is able to adapt, it is doomed. Dinosaurs were fitted perfectly. They were doomed.
Penguins and dinosaurs
In Antarctica, emperor penguins form their colonies on the sea ice. They cannot live without it. Scientists assessed the threat to their survival at today’s rate of ice melt.
The conclusion is disappointing: penguins are so well adapted to the environment that they are unlikely to have time to evolve to survive without their ice floes. 98% of emperor penguins will be extinct by 2100.
Probably something similar happened to the dinosaurs.
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