It’s unprecedented: the first fossilized remains of a dinosaur killed by the asteroid that hit the earth 66 million years ago have been found in the United States, in Tanis, North Dakota. According to paleontologists quoted by the BBC, it is a leg of Thescelosaurus, a small herbivore. Researchers also reportedly found a fragment of the space rock that killed it alongside it, suggesting the creature was “buried on the day of impact.”
“It is the most incredible object we can imagine here, the best scenario, the only thing that we have always wanted to find on this site and we have it now”, testified the researcher from the University of Manchester Robert DePalma, Head of Research.
Death on impact
The dinosaur’s leg passed into the expert hands of Professor Paul Barrett of the Natural History Museum in London. “Thescelosaurus comes from a group on which we had almost no information on the skin aspect. This shows conclusively that these animals were very scaly like lizards,” he told the BBC.
By examining the fossil, the scientist was also able to confirm that the creature died instantly. “There is no evidence of disease on the paw, there is no obvious pathology and no bite marks. There are also no pieces that have disappeared,” he continues.
A dedicated documentary on the BBC
The BBC was fortunate enough to complete a three-year report on the Tanis site, dubbed “the dinosaur graveyard”, which will air on April 15. A documentary that will reveal to the general public some new discoveries. The BBC cites in particular a fossil turtle skewered by a wooden stake, the remains of small mammals and their burrows, the skin of a triceratops, the embryo of a flying pterosaur inside its egg, and what would seem to be a consequence of this famous asteroid dating back 66 million years.
“We have so many details thanks to this site. It tells us what happened at every moment, it’s almost like watching a movie,” enthuses Robert DePalma. The scientist and his team will soon submit their research to peer review before being published in scientific journals. What may remove the last doubts about what caused the Cretaceous extinction, several tens of millions of years ago.