Dinosaurs would have kept right on living, had an asteroid not wiped them out. That’s according to new research from the University of Bath and London’s Natural History Museum.
While it’s recently been en vogue to claim that dinosaurs were seeing their time of planet-wide domination come to an end even before a massive impact hurried them off the Earth, this new study claims that dinosaurs would have lived on.
The theory this study refutes claims that dinosaur species diversity was dwindling, a sign that the entire branch of the animal kingdom was winding down while avians and mammals were on the rise.
“What we found is that the dinosaurs were still dominant, they were still widespread and still doing really well,” explained lead author Joe Bonsor. “If the asteroid impact had never happened then they might not have died out and they would have continued after the Cretaceous.’
Bonsor and his fellow researchers believe that the prior theory is based on gaps in the fossil record and not hard evidence. Dinosaurs were an incredibly diverse group of animals that lived for hundreds of millions of years. While many of them died in that time, most of their remains were not fossilized. Bonsor thinks that the theory of diversity decline is based on lack of fossils and not proof.
He said: “Previous studies done by others have used various methods to draw the conclusion that dinosaurs would have died out anyway, as they were in decline towards the end of the Cretaceous period.
“However, we show that if you expand the dataset to include more recent dinosaur family trees and a broader set of dinosaur types, the results don’t actually all point to this conclusion – in fact only about half of them do.”