Scientific advances after the ‘amazing’ dinosaur fossil found from the day the asteroid hit Earth | Science News

David Attenborough examines the fossilized leg of a dinosaur

Chicxulub Crater is located on the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico and is one of the world’s largest confirmed impact structures. It is believed to be the place where the giant asteroid fell and wiped out the dinosaurs. The researchers generally agreed that the impact element – an asteroid – was about 10 kilometers in diameter (6.2 miles).

It was large enough that, if set at sea level, it would eject material more than twice the height of Mount Everest.

Chicxulub’s shock was so powerful that it rearranged the balance of the Earth’s biosphere.

But experts are divided over whether the dinosaur death actually occurred as a result of an asteroid impact.

So far, no traces of dinosaur fossils have been found that could be dated to the time of the impact.

Science: This discovery is the first of its kind and could change the story of the dinosaurs

Science: This discovery is the first of its kind and could change the story of the dinosaurs (Image: GETTY / BBC)

Yucatán: An asteroid has struck off the coast of the Yucatán in Mexico

Yucatán: An asteroid has struck off the coast of the Yucatán in Mexico (Image: Google Maps)

But in April, both asteroid fragments and the first dinosaur fossils from an impact 66 million years ago were discovered at an excavation site in North Dakota.

Robert DePalma, a paleontologist, has unearthed a discovery: potentially the first physical evidence that ancient reptiles were wiped out by an asteroid strike that ended the Cretaceous.

A rare pterosaur egg was found along with asteroid fragments and fossils.

And, to the great satisfaction of the researchers, inside the egg were fossilized baby pterosaur bones.

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Dinosaur: One of the researchers involved in the project is examining fossilized remains of legs

Dinosaur: One of the researchers involved in the project is examining fossilized remains of legs (Image: BBC)

A preserved lair was also found – probably made by an early mammal, with a fossilized turtle stabbed with a wooden stake and preserved triceratops skin.

It is extremely rare to find fossils that are even within the last few thousand years of dinosaur age, emphasizing the importance of the discovery.

Mr DePalma told BBC Science Focus: “This is the most incredible thing we can imagine here, the best case scenario.

“The only thing we’ve always wanted to find on this site and here we have it.”

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Ancient History: Fossilized foot in question

Ancient History: Fossilized foot in question (Image: BBC)

David Attenborough: A naturalist appeared in a documentary exploring the discovery

David Attenborough: A naturalist appeared in a documentary exploring the discovery (Image: BBC)

The documentary, voiced by David Attenborough, was later broadcast on the BBC and followed the revelations.

The footage showed the researchers discovering major discoveries as well as exploring the area around the excavation site.

It includes the moment when the team discovers the leg of the little herbivore Thescelosaurus – a dinosaur that may have witnessed an asteroid impact.

Phillip Manning, a professor of natural history at the University of Manchester, who appears in the program, told the Today program that it was an “absolutely crazy” discovery.

Chicxulub Impact Crater: A place where researchers believe an asteroid has struck

Chicxulub Impact Crater: A place where researchers believe an asteroid has struck (Image: GETTY)

He said: “The time resolution we can achieve at this place is beyond our wildest dreams.

“This really shouldn’t exist and it’s absolutely enchantingly beautiful.

“I never dreamed in my entire career that I would be able to see something a) so limited in time; and b) so beautiful, and also tell such a wonderful story.”

He said the team also discovered the remains of fish that inhaled debris from an asteroid impact, which occurred 1864 miles (3,000 km) away in the Gulf of Mexico.

Prehistory: One of the scientists involved said the discovery was 'absolutely crazy'

Prehistory: One of the scientists involved said the discovery was ‘absolutely crazy’ (Image: BBC)

This, as well as the presence of other debris that fell in a certain period immediately after the asteroid impact, allowed them to date the site very accurately.

Mr DePalma said: “We have so many details with this website that tell us what happened from moment to moment, it’s almost like watching it play out in the movies.

“You look at a pillar of rock, you look at fossils there and it takes you back to that day.”

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