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Study Shows That The First Tree-Dwelling Birds Went Extinct With Dinosaurs

The asteroid that killed dinosaurs 66 million years ago, also led to the extinction of the first tree-dwelling birds, finds a study.

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Skeleton of a dinosaur, pixabay

The asteroid that killed dinosaurs 66 million years ago, also led to the extinction of the first tree-dwelling birds, finds a study.

The asteroid that crashed to Earth with a force one million times more than the largest atomic bomb decimated the planet’s forests as well as its canopies.

With no more perches, the perching birds went extinct. The ones that are alive today are descendants of a handful of ground-dwelling species, like modern ground birds such as kiwis and emus, the researchers said.

“The temporary elimination of forests in the aftermath of the asteroid impact explains why arboreal birds failed to survive across this extinction event,” said lead author Daniel Field, from the Milner Centre for Evolution at the University of Bath, UK.

“The ancestors of modern arboreal birds did not move into the trees until forests had recovered from the extinction-causing asteroid.

“Only a handful of ancestral bird lineages succeeded in surviving the mass extinction event 66 million years ago, and all of today’s amazing living bird diversity can be traced to these ancient survivors,” Field added.

This fossil provides a unique insight into how crocodiles began evolving into dolphin and killer whale-like forms more than 180 million years ago," said Mark Young, of the University of Edinburgh's School of GeoSciences in Britain.
Dinosaur Fossil. pixabay

The study, appearing in the journal Current Biology, determined the destruction of the world’s forests, by looking at microscopic fossils of pollen and spores.

The fossil record immediately after the asteroid hit shows the charcoal remains of burnt trees, and then, tons of fern spores, the researchers said.

“Our study examined the fossil record from New Zealand, Japan, Europe and North America, which showed there was a mass deforestation across the globe at the end of the Cretaceous period,” said Antoine Bercovici, pollen expert at the Smithsonian Institution and the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.

With no more trees, the tree-dwelling birds went extinct. The birds that did manage to survive were ground-dwellers — birds whose fossilised remains show longer, sturdier legs like we see in modern ground birds like kiwis and emus.

Though the dinosaurs and their perching bird neighbours died 66 million years ago, their plight is relevant today, the researchers noted.

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“The end-Cretaceous event is the fifth mass extinction — we’re in the sixth,” Dunn said.

“It’s important for us to understand what happens when you destroy an ecosystem, like with deforestation and climate change — so we can know how our actions will affect what comes after us,” Dunn noted. (IANS)

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Archeologists find New Evidence about Extinction of Ice Age Animals

The study builds on similar findings of platinum spikes -- an element associated with cosmic objects like asteroids or comets

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Extinction
Team of researchers found unusually high concentrations of platinum and iridium in outwash sediments from a recently discovered crater in Greenland that could have been the impact point of Extinction. Pixabay

Archaeologists have found new evidence that an extraterrestrial body crashed to Earth almost 13,000 years ago that caused the Extinction of many large animals and a probable population decline in early humans.

The Younger Dryas Impact Hypothesis, controversial from the time it was presented in 2007, proposes that an asteroid or comet hit the Earth about 12,800 years ago causing a period of extreme cooling that contributed to extinctions of more than 35 species of megafauna including giant sloths, sabre-tooth cats, mastodons and mammoths.

It also coincides with a serious decline in early human populations such as the Clovis culture and is believed to have caused massive wildfires that could have blocked sunlight, causing an “impact winter” near the end of the Pleistocene Epoch.

In a new study published in the journal Scientific Reports, University of South Carolina archaeologist Christopher Moore and 16 colleagues present further evidence of a cosmic impact based on research done at White Pond near Elgin, South Carolina.

The study builds on similar findings of platinum spikes — an element associated with cosmic objects like asteroids or comets — in North America, Europe, western Asia and recently in Chile and South Africa.

“There have been numerous papers that have come out in the past couple of years with similar data from other sites that almost universally support the notion that there was an extraterrestrial impact or comet airburst that caused the Younger Dryas climate event,” said Moore.

“First, we thought it was a North American event, and then there was evidence in Europe and elsewhere that it was a Northern Hemisphere event. And now with the research in Chile and South Africa, it looks like it was probably a global event,” he added.

Extinction
Archaeologists have found new evidence that an extraterrestrial body crashed to Earth almost 13,000 years ago that caused the Extinction of many large animals and a probable population decline in early humans. Pixabay

In addition, a team of researchers found unusually high concentrations of platinum and iridium in outwash sediments from a recently discovered crater in Greenland that could have been the impact point.

Although the crater hasn’t been precisely dated yet, Moore said the possibility is good that it could be the “smoking gun” that scientists have been looking for to confirm a cosmic event.

Additionally, data from South America and elsewhere suggests the event may have actually included multiple impacts and airbursts over the entire globe.

While the brief return to ice-age conditions during the Younger Dryas period has been well-documented, the reasons for it and the decline of human populations and animals have remained unclear. The impact hypothesis was proposed as a possible trigger for these abrupt climate changes that lasted about 1,400 years.

Extinction
Failure of glacial ice dams allowed a massive release of freshwater into the north Atlantic, affecting oceanic circulation and causing the Earth to plunge into a cold climate before Extinction. Pixabay

The conventional view has been that the failure of glacial ice dams allowed a massive release of freshwater into the north Atlantic, affecting oceanic circulation and causing the Earth to plunge into a cold climate.

The Younger Dryas hypothesis simply claims that the cosmic impact was the trigger for the meltwater pulse into the oceans.

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“We speculate that the impact contributed to the extinction, but it wasn’t the only cause. Over hunting by humans almost certainly contributed, too, as did climate change,” Moore noted. (IANS)