xperts believe to have found an extraordinary fossil that could be from the day the big asteroid hit the earth about 66 million years ago, which led to the extinction of dinosaurs. An archeological site named Tanis in the state of North Dakota has been showing some promising pieces that for their age seem to be in great condition.
Scientists working in accordance with archeologists on the site managed to find remnants of the dinosaur’s skin which helped to accurately date when the creature passed away. Based on the scientific analysis, it seems that the dinosaur had died the same day the asteroid hit the earth, most presumably from the direct impact of the asteroid crashing on Earth.
Taking into consideration the location where the asteroid hit about 66 million years ago, it is very possible that the dinosaur died from the impact. The Chicxulub crater which was created by the asteroid is located on the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico. The asteroid was thought to be between 10 and 15 kilometers wide, however, the velocity of the impact created a crater with a diameter of 150 kilometers.
Such a big impact must have created a huge explosion, devastating enough to wipe out most of the dinosaurs on impact. Phillip Manning, a professor of natural history at the University of Manchester had mentioned in an interview with the BBC just how incredibly amazing this find is. Archeologists had only dreamt of finding something like this, but they never thought that an actual fossil from the day of the impact survived.
“The time resolution we can achieve at this site is beyond our wildest dreams … This really should not exist and it’s absolutely gobsmackingly beautiful. I never dreamt in all my career that I would get to look at something a) so time-constrained; and b) so beautiful, and also tells such a wonderful story.” (Quote by Phillip Manning)
The fossil leg was from a species known as Thescelosaurus, a herbivorous lizard from the late Cretaceous period (76 million years ago). This dinosaur is part of the Euornithopod group and could have grown to a length of 11.4 feet (3.5 meters). It is interesting because this is not a very old species and neither is one of the bigger examples, so having a smaller dinosaur’s fossils survive such an impact is quite miraculous.
Professor Manning went on to further explain that other pieces of evidence have shown that the fossil was from the day of the impact. Besides the Thescelosaurs leg, fossils of fish such as sturgeon and paddlefish from that era had been found. From a radiometric analysis, the experts had discovered small particles from the asteroid stuck in their gills. These fish must have been thrown out of water for miles upon the impact of the asteroid.
The experts had critically analyzed this scenario by taking into consideration other reasons for the death of this specific dinosaur apart from the asteroid. From the analysis done on the leg, there was no evidence of disease or scavenge marks. It looks like the leg was abruptly ripped off from the dinosaur’s torso, which refers to the impact of the asteroid.
“This looks like an animal whose leg has simply been ripped off really quickly. There’s no evidence on the leg of disease, there are no obvious pathologies, there’s no trace of the leg being scavenged, such as bite marks or bits of it that are missing,” (Quote by Professor Paul Barret from London’s Natural History Museum)
Another interesting piece of evidence is a pterosaur embryo inside an egg that was discovered at the same sight. If the asteroid would have not impacted the embryo inside, the dinosaur should have grown and hatched. What can be seen inside the egg are small bones of a pterosaur that would have grown one day to become a huge flying reptile.
It is this extensive list of evidence and many others which have yet not been presented to the public that shows why experts believe that this fossil had passed away on the day the asteroid hit Earth.