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Post-apocalyptic fossils show rise in mammals after dinosaurs

Date: 26 October 2019 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

Scientists working on pre-historic events have discovered a surge in mammal fossils immediately after the apolcalyptic meteroid impact that destroyed dinosaurs.

 

Background

The fossils, described by scientists, date from the first million years after the calamity and show that the surviving terrestrial mammalian and plant lineages grew drastically. Mammals attained dominance and plant life diversified impressively.

 

Details

  • The skulls and bones of 16 mammal species were identified and are related to modern-day hoofed mammals like pigs, cows and deer. The fossils also consisted of pollen, leaf impressions and petrified wood.

  • The asteroid strike, which ended the Cretaceous Period and opened the Paleogene Period, laid waste to the world, eradicating the dinosaurs except their bird descendants, seagoing reptiles that dominated the oceans, and important marine invertebrates and numerous plant species.

  • With dinosaurs no longer eating them, mammals made quick evolutionary strides, assuming new forms and lifestyles and taking over ecological niches vacated by extinct competitors.

  • Mammals had lived in the large shadow of the dinosaurs, never getting bigger than a small dog until the mass extinction.

  • The mammals that survived the asteroid were mainly small omnivores - the largest being the size of a rat and weighing about a pound.

  • Plant life also was hit hard by the global environmental catastrophe that followed the crash of the six-mile-wide (10-km) asteroid off Mexico’s coast.

  • The largest mammal among the Colorado fossils was wolf-sized Eoconodon, followed by Taeniolabis, the size of a capybara. The largest predators were 5-foot-long crocodilians.

  • The asteroid that led to the extinction of the dinosaurs was the second-worst mass extinction on the planet, but set in motion the evolutionary events that much later led to the rise of primates and eventually the appearance of Homo sapiens, or humans.