About 66-million years ago, a giant asteroid hit the Earth without mercy. The explosion it caused was bigger than that of a million atomic bombs and ended about three quarters of all life on the planet. Among these unlucky creatures were all the non-avian dinosaurs. However, today’s modern birds stand proof of the fact that some dinosaurs survived and evolved into our feathered friends. Still, or years, experts have tried to find out why only certain birds survived the extinction event while all the others perished. A new study, which the journal Current Biology recently published, might have some answers to that mystery.
According to Daniel Field, the leader of the research, the aftermath of that catastrophe obliterated all the forests on the planet. This most probably led to the extinction of the species of birds that lived mostly in trees. Those who survived were land-dwellers, like the ancestors of modern ducks, ostriches and chickens. After the cataclysm, these species evolved at a rapid pace because they had to adapt to the new environment. Experts think that this hypothesis is very interesting because it explains both the extinction of certain species and the survival of others.
How birds survived the dinosaur extinction
In order to reach this conclusion, Field and his team mates gathered a lot of evidence from different sources. They analyzed huge new bird family trees, newly-discovered bird fossils, and analyzed the pollen from the rock layer that made an appearance immediately after the impact occurred.
Field says that the study came to be little by little, and that it took some time to gather all the information. It’s interesting that experts have already considered the possibility that the asteroid caused massive wildfires. Those could have probably destroyed the forests, which means that this new theory might actually be very close to reality.
Image source: flickr