The dinosaurs were surprised by the asteroid when they were at their maximum splendor, far from the period of decline that many recent researches have described: to give a new overview of the ecological balance existing 66 million years ago, when a huge meteorite hit the planet starting the process that led to the disappearance of the dinosaurs, is a study published in Science Advances by researchers from the University of Oulu in Finland and the University of Vigo, Spain.
For decades, there has been debate as to why non-avian dinosaurs, such as Tyrannosaurus and Triceratops, went extinct while mammals and other species such as crocodiles and turtles survived.
According to some studies, most of the dinosaurs were already in a phase of decline and the impact of the huge asteroid, and the consequences on the climate, did nothing but further accelerate their decline.
But by analyzing a huge quantity of fossils from the period, the researchers have now attempted to reconstruct the state of the ecosystems of the time with greater precision in order to understand the state of health of the various species.
A work from which it emerges instead that about 66 million years ago the state of health of most dinosaur species was actually excellent and that they were in full control of their specific ecological niches.
On the contrary, birds, mammals and reptiles were species that frequently had to adapt their behaviors and habits to ecosystems and often seek new survival strategies.
It was precisely this greater aptitude for flexibility of non-dinosaurians, the researchers propose, the trump card for which mammals, reptiles and birds were perhaps able to adapt more quickly to the new radically different conditions due to the impact of the asteroid and to favor their survival to the detriment of the dinosaurs that had dominated the various ecological niches up to that moment.