Science and life on earth

Survivors of the Last Extinction Crisis – by Richard Flament

“Shinnam helmet”.

66 million years ago, the era of the dinosaurs ended in a story worthy of a movie about the end of the world. Meteors, extreme climates, and volcanic eruptions have made life so hostile to any terrestrial being, that dinosaurs perished during this catastrophe. However, not all of them disappeared. A group of feathered dinosaurs managed to repeatedly withstand the climatic blasts that lingered on Earth at the time.

In popular ideas, it is common to believe that dinosaurs became extinct a long time ago, when in fact they are very diverse today. Heirs of a colossal reign, these last survivors are quite simply all birds. So why do birds get away with it and not large dinosaurs like Tyrannosaurus Rex or other sauropods?

The main reason for the disappearance of large dinosaurs (and other living creatures during this period) is the disruption of the food chain due to various climatic events that occurred 66 million years ago. Thus vegetation, prey and predators were greatly affected. Not to mention the bloated asteroid that crashed in Chicxulub, Mexico, which destroyed much life on impact and possibly obscured Earth for years.

As for our dear birds, or “bird” dinosaurs, they managed to survive without much damage thanks to their different diets from carnivores and herbivores. At least, this is the most likely hypothesis. In fact, birds are somewhat opportunistic and therefore have a chance to prey on a variety of foods such as seeds or insects. In addition, their reproduction is faster than that of other dinosaurs, and therefore they will renew a new group faster.

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Tens of millions of years of evolution led the surviving dinosaurs to the diversity of birds we know today. In some birds such as ostriches, ostriches, and helmeted cassowaries, their leg morphology is used in the film to recreate what must have been the legs of a carnivorous dinosaur dating back to the secondary era. At the same time, they are dinosaurs… Who would have thought that we can still see them today?

Richard Flament, PhD student in evolutionary biology at Qatar University

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