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WERE DINOSAURS ALREADY ON THEIR WAY OUT BEFORE THE ASTEROID?
Time:15-07-2016  Hits:2

      They ruled the Earth for more than 180 million years before disappearing in a catastrophic asteroid impact.

      But the dinosaurs may have been teetering on the edge long before the impact from space that has been credited with wiping them out 66 million years ago, according to a study.

      Researchers suggest the kings of the prehistoric world had in fact been been in a state of decline for millions of years, and that a lack of diversity may have ultimately led to their extinction.

      While many believe the dinosaurs were going strong right up to the asteroid impact, the new analysis suggests that they may have already been dwindling for up to 50 million years earlier.

      Indeed, the researchers say their slow demise may have enabled the earliest mammals to diversify just enough to be primed and ready to step into the gap left by the reptiles when the asteroid hit.

      Using statistical analysis of the dinosaur family tree, researchers from the universities of Reading and Bristol carried out a study to compare the evolutionary dead ends against the fossil record.

      Rather than going strong right up to the world-changing asteroid impact, their analysis showed that the number of new species of dinosaur emerging couldnt keep up with those dying out, so dinosaurs were becoming less diverse overall.

      The analysis revealed that there were a few dinosaurs which bucked the declining trend. Hadrosaurs, the sheep or rats of the dinosaur world, became more specialised and were branching off into new species at a higher rate than going extinct. Pictured are Parasaurolophus, which emerged more than 76 million years ago

      This reached a critical point almost 24 million years before the asteroid hit, when species were becoming extinct at a faster rate than new ones were coming into existence.

      Dr Chris Venditti, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Reading and senior author of the study, told MailOnline: What that means is that up to 50 million years before the dinosaurs went extinct because of the asteroid impact, the rate of speciation had fallen behind the rate of extinction.

      They were starting to dwindle, dinosaurs couldnt replace themselves with new species at the rate at which they were dying out.

      That goes in the face of… all the other evidence which has been proposed for the scenario in which they were reigning strong right up until the time of the impact.

 

-----------This article was originally published by Shivali Best For Mailonline

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