Recent Paleontological Discoveries Open New Doors

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Recent Paleontological Discoveries Open New Doors

Liam Hodgson, Staff Writer

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Recently, scientists have made three major discoveries: a collection of fossils from the day the earth was hit by that fateful asteroid, 220 million year old fossils, and preserved ‘fingerprints’. One of the Earth’s most pivotal time periods was the millions of years when dinosaurs reigned supreme. As technology has progressed, we’re learning more about dinosaurs than we could’ve imagined.

While it’s pretty common knowledge the dinosaurs were wiped out by an asteroid 66 million years ago, there’s still been debate as to what exactly happened. The asteroid crashed near the Yucatan Peninsula, resulting in tsunamis and earthquakes that moved sea inhabitants way inland.

This is evident near Bowman, North Dakota. The fossilized remains of a lake ecosystem were found preserved from the day of the impact. Researchers from the site, including Robert DePalmer, note it seems to show “the full nature and extent of biotic disruptions that took place.” Because of the sheer distance from the impact site, and the preservation of the ecosystem, scientists can tell what the effects were. Tektikes, small glass beads resulting from meteor collisions, were found all over the site. These tektikes matched the ones found near the Yucatan, so it’s probable the water carried them to be lodged in the gills of prehistoric fish.

 

Farther south, in Argentina, paleontologists have gone even further back in time. A discovery was made of a two meter by two meter block full of fossils from 220 million years ago, the relative age of these fossils was found by carbon dating. Relatively nothing is known about this time frame, so this site could be chock-full of information. The bones come from roughly 10 different creatures; several are dicynodonts (a common ancestor of mammals) and some are archosaurs (potentially the ancestors of crocodiles). The archosaur fossils are very important because there are few bones found from these dinosaurs. With this discovery, it may be enough to find the link between them and modern-day crocodiles.

 

Less than 1% of all dinosaur tracks found show the imprints of skin. Recently, the tracks of Minisauripus showed five perfectly preserved skin imprints. From these tracks alone, which are just a couple centimeters long, scientists can compare them to modern birds and larger dinosaurs—such as the brontosaur. These tracks are 120 million years old yet they are so well-preserved because they were tracked through a thin layer of mud.

 

“When looking to the past, it becomes possible to see trends and patterns that hint toward evolution. We can see how organisms adapted to catastrophic events in the past, what kind of conditions they lived in, and the overall history of life on Earth,” Kelsey Beaudette, said, 12.

 

With these recent finds, all in the past two months, scientists, paleontologists, and professors all over the world are opening new doors. These finds could lead to breakthroughs in terms of the first and final days of the dinosaurs, and how their skin patterns works. Although dinosaurs seem like a thing of the past, this evidence shows there’s still a lot to learn.