Scientists unearthed a cache of fossils in central Colorado. The fossils revealed how the mammals rose after the death of the dinosaur as the result of the so-called Chicxulub impactor, about 66 million years ago.
The fossils found by the scientists date back from about 1 million years after the apocalyptic asteroid hit the Earth.
The fossilized organisms helped scientists understand how the mammals and plants that survived the cataclysmic event managed to flourish like never before.
“Were it not for the asteroid, humans would never have evolved. One message I would like people to take from this is that their earliest ancestors – and by ancestors, we’re talking fuzzy little squirrel-like critters – had their origins in the wake of the extinction of the dinosaurs,” explained Ian Miller from the Denver Museum of Nature & Science.
Mammals’ Rise After Dinosaur Extinction Explained By Scientists
The mammals evolved fast since the dinosaurs were gone. Many species began to develop, and the mammals were free to occupy the empty space left vacant due to the death of the massive reptiles. Within 700,000 after the impact, mammals increased in size by about 100 times in comparison with the mammals that lived along with the dinosaurs or immediately after the cataclysm.
“Essentially, we were able to tease out details of the emergence of the modern world – the age of mammals – from the ashes of the age of the dinosaurs,” Miller added.
“For the first time, we were able to link together time, fossil plants, fossil animals, and temperature in one of the most critical intervals of Earth’s history,” also said Tyler Lyson, the study’s leading author.
The study was published in the journal Science, and it is the first to link the death of the dinosaurs to the proliferation of mammals and plants that survived the deadly impact. “Mass extinctions are the biologic reset button,” concluded Lyson.