According to a new study certain dinosaur species were in decline, millions of years before the meteorite hit on the Gulf coast of Mexico.
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Scientists found that dinosaurs began to extinguish around 110 million years ago, which is tens of millions of years before the massive 9.5-km Chicxulub meteorite impact, 66 million years ago.
Dr Manabu Sakamoto, University of Reading, the palaeontologist who led the research, explains:
“We were not expecting this result. 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.
Our work is ground-breaking in that, once again, it will change our understanding of the fate of these mighty creatures. While a sudden apocalypse may have been the final nail in the coffin, something else had already been preventing dinosaurs from evolving new species as fast as old species were dying out.
This suggests that for tens of millions of years before their ultimate demise, dinosaurs were beginning to lose their edge as the dominant species on Earth.”
source University of Reading