In DepthPaleontology

How life blossomed after the dinosaurs died

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Science  25 Oct 2019:
Vol. 366, Issue 6464, pp. 409
DOI: 10.1126/science.366.6464.409

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Summary

Researchers have discovered that Corral Bluffs, 100 kilometers from Denver, provides a well-dated fossil treasure trove that has revealed how life recovered from the impact of a giant asteroid 66 million years ago. Unlike many fossil sites from the era just after the dinosaurs went extinct, Corral Bluffs' marine shale preserves a complete plant, animal, and environmental record. The team was able to establish high-resolution dating of the layers there, using pollen to pinpoint when the asteroid hit and other methods to establish key timepoints. At first, ferns and animals no bigger than 6 kilograms dominated that landscape, but by 100,000 years later, palms had taken over and mammals were twice as big and more diverse. This trend continued, fueled by the rise of new kinds of plants and particularly by the appearance of protein-rich legumes. The findings will help researchers understand what may happen with the mass extinction that may be going on right now.

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