Scientists believe they got an unusual view of the last day of the dinosaurs after they unearthed the fossil of an animal they believe died on that day.
The perfectly preserved leg, which even includes remains of animal skin, can be accurately dated to the time the asteroid that caused the extinction of the dinosaurs hit Earth 66 million years ago, experts say, due to debris from the impact, which rained down only in its immediate aftermath.
“It’s absolutely insane,” said Philip Manning, professor of natural history at the University of Manchester. He told BBC Radio 4’s Today program that the leg of the dinosaur had been discovered at the Tanis excavation site in North Dakota It was the ‘Absolute Dinosaur Racket’.
He said, “The temporal resolution that we can make on this site is beyond our wildest dreams… This shouldn’t really exist and it is so beautiful. Never in my entire career have I ever dreamed of looking at something a) lack of time; and b) beautiful Very well, it also tells a great story.”
The fossils were filmed for a BBC documentary, Dinosaurs: The Last Day with Sir David Attenborough; During which the presenter reviews the fossil discoveries. When Sir David looked at[the leg], he smiled and said, “This is an impossible fossil.” “And I agreed,” Manning said.
He said the team also discovered the remains of fish that had inhaled the debris of the asteroid impact that occurred 1,864 miles (3,000 km) away in the Gulf of Mexico.
This and the presence of other debris that fell for a specific period immediately after the asteroid impact allowed the site to be dated with much greater accuracy than standard carbon dating techniques.
Robert DiPalma, a graduate student at the University of Manchester who is leading the Tanis excavation, said: “We have so much detail with this site that it tells us what happened moment by moment, it’s like watching it in the movies. You look at the rock column, you look at the fossils there, and it takes you back to that day.” .
The BBC reported that the team also found the fossilized remains of a turtle that had been jammed by a wooden stake and a small mammal and its burrows, as well as skin from a Triceratops, a pterosaur embryo inside its egg and what scientists believe could be part of the asteroid impact itself.
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