How Did Dino-Era Birds Survive the Asteroid 'Apocalypse'?
Fossil spores and bird family trees suggest that deforestation was a key factor in determining who survived 66 million years ago.
When a nine-mile-wide asteroid struck Earth 66 million years ago, it exploded with a force greater than a million atomic bombs and wiped out three quarters of life on Earth, including the nonavian dinosaurs. But we know that some members of the dinosaur family tree survived, eking out a living in the post-impact world and eventually proliferating to become today’s birds.
The long-standing question, then, is why certain birds lived while others died in the mass extinction event at the end of the Cretaceous period?
Perhaps it’s because the impact and its aftermath obliterated forests worldwide, leading to the mass extinction of prehistoric tree-dwelling birds, researchers argue today in the journal Current Biology.
The only birds that survived were ground-dwellers,