SCIENTISTS have uncovered a dinosaur graveyard formed by the immediate fallout of the asteroid impact that hit Earth 66 million years ago – wiping out the giants.
Digs at a site called Tanis in North Dakota reveal fossils that were sprayed with scorching shards which fell from the sky during the extinction event.
Robert DePalma/ Berkeley University How the aftermath of the asteroid impact could have looked
The deposits show evidence also of having been swamped with water – the consequence of the colossal Tsunami-style sea surge that was generated by the deadly impact.
Experts say the new find may be the best evidence yet that the massive meteor set off the sequence of events that led to the mass extinction of the dinosaurs, reports Berkeley News.
The results of the excavations are now to be published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
“A tangled mass of freshwater fish, terrestrial vertebrates, trees, branches, logs, marine ammonites and other marine creatures was all packed into this layer by the inland-directed surge,” said Robert DePalma, from the University of Kansas.
“A tsunami would have taken at least 17 or more hours to reach the site from the crater, but seismic waves – and a subsequent surge – would have reached it in tens of minutes.”
Besides fish the ‘graveyard’ also contains evidence of dinosaurs, mammals and sea reptiles killed in the aftermath of the asteroid’s impact.
Among the amazing remnants were reported to be the remains of a Triceratops and a duck-billed hadrosaur.
The Chicxulub impact, caused by an eight-mile wide object smashing into the Gulf of Mexico, is thought to have triggered the extinction of 75 per cent of animal and plant life on Earth.
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Researchers were able to date the site’s fish skeletons and amber from tree sap to the point around 66m years ago when the giant space rock struck.
The fish were found with the impact-induced debris embedded in their gills which means they would have breathed in the fragments that filled the water around them.
The scientists have spent the past six years building a picture of how the beasts came to die so quickly after the initial impact.
Robert DePalma/ Berkeley University A perfectly-preserved fish tail from the Hell Creek Formation, in North Dakota
AFP or licensors Robert DePalma and field assistant Kylie Ruble excavate fossil carcasses at the site in North Dakota
Getty – Contributor Dinosaurs ‘thrived’ before a mass extinction event wiped them out, experts say
Robert DePalma/ Berkeley University The site appears to date to the day 66m years ago when an asteroid hit Earth
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