The death of the dinosaurs 66 million years ago was caused by an asteroid hitting Earth. However, there has always been the question of whether they would have become extinct some time later anyway or, if on the contrary, they would have consolidated their reign and today the Earth would be a planet dominated by dinosaurs.
Recent research has looked for clues to resolve that question. Its authors are: Mike Benton from the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom, Phil Currie from the University of Edmonton in Canada, as well as Fabien Condamine and Guillaume Guinot from the Montpellier Institute of Evolutionary Sciences in France.
The team used Bayesian modeling techniques to account for various types of uncertainties, such as incomplete fossil records, uncertainties about the dating of fossils, and uncertainties about evolutionary models.
The results indicate that the six most abundant dinosaur families of the Cretaceous were evolving and expanding, enjoying clear evolutionary success, until 76 million years ago, they began to show a sudden decline. Their extinction rates increased and in some cases the rate of creation of new species fell.
Everything indicates that the dinosaurs were already suffering a strong decline before the fall of the asteroid.
Symbolic illustration that recreates the idea of the last living dinosaurs on Earth facing their sad destiny. (Image: Jorge Gonzalez)
The study authors also analyzed how dinosaur ecosystems functioned in the final stage of their reign, and it became clear that herbivorous species tended to disappear first, and this in turn promoted the extinction of species that depended on those, for example carnivores. , with the result that the last dinosaur ecosystems were unstable and highly vulnerable to changes in environmental conditions.
The study is titled “Dinosaur biodiversity declined well before the asteroid impact, influenced by ecological and environmental pressures”. And it has been published in the academic journal Nature Communications. (Source: NCYT from Amazings)