It's very common for a person to think that an asteroid wiped out the dinosaurs 66 million years ago, but now new evidence has suggested the asteroid wasn't the only factor at play with the extinction of the dinosaurs.
66 million years ago, a space rock collided with Earth, causing mile-high tsunamis, fires, clouds of dust and sulfur that covered the sun, and more. The climate on Earth certainly changed after the impact of the asteroid, and it's currently believed by many researchers that the changed climate is what caused the dinosaurs to become extinct. However, new research is breaking that current theory as it suggests that the dinosaurs were already on their way out and the asteroid impact was what just finished them off.
The researchers examined 1,600 fossils from 247 different species of dinosaurs and compiled those dinosaurs into six families. The researchers then measured how the species of dinosaurs in those six families diversified over time and found that across all six of the groups, the number of species of dinosaurs was declining 10 million years prior to the asteroid impact.
Condamine, a research scientist at the University of Montpellier in France who co-authored the new study, said to Insider, "We do not find that dinosaur diversity was high and diversifying toward the end of the Cretaceous, as previously thought".
Now researchers are pointing towards the planet's climate becoming colder in the millions of years leading up to the catastrophic event as the cause of the dinosaurs' seemingly eventual extinction. The study authors wrote, "Warm periods favored dinosaur diversification whereas cooler periods led to enhanced extinctions."
"Many paleontologists think dinosaurs would have continued to live if the asteroid did not hit Earth. Our study brings new information for this question, and it seems that dinosaurs were not in good shape before the impact," said Condamine.
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