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Dinosaur fossils discovered from the day the asteroid hit Earth

Published: 08th April, 2022 at 12:04
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The discovery could prove once and for all that an asteroid impact 66 million years ago wiped out the dinosaurs.

Asteroid fragments and the first dinosaur fossils from the impact of the asteroid 66 million years ago have just been discovered at a dig site in North Dakota.

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Unearthed by palaeontologist Robert DePalma, this could be the first piece of physical evidence that dinosaurs were wiped out by an asteroid strike, ending the Cretaceous period.

Along with the asteroid fragments and fossils, a rare pterosaur egg with fossilised bones of a baby pterosaur inside were found. A preserved burrow likely made by an early mammal, and a fossilised turtle that was skewered by a wooden stake, and a preserved Triceratops skin were also discovered at the dig site.

It is rare to find fossils that are within even the final few thousand years of the age of dinosaurs, which highlights the importance of these recent discoveries.

“This is the most incredible thing that we could possibly imagine here, the best case scenario… The one thing that we always wanted to find in this site and here we’ve got it.” said DePalma on these findings.

Because of the importance of these discoveries, a 90-minute film voiced by David Attenborough will be airing on 15 April on BBC One to cover it. This documentary will attempt to paint a picture of life at Tanis (the dig site) at the time of the asteroid strike.

Attenborough will be joined by DePalma and Prof Phil Manning from the University of Manchester. Footage will show them as they unearth a lot of these major discoveries and explore the area.

This footage includes the capture of the moment the team discovers the leg of a small herbivorous Thescelosaurus - a dinosaur that may have witnessed the asteroid impact. The programme also follows DePalma and his team as they examine the fossilised dinosaur egg and other major discoveries.

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Authors

Alex is a staff writer at BBC Science Focus. He has worked in technology and science journalism since graduating in 2018 with an interest in consumer tech, robotics, AI and future technology.

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