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Dinosaurs weren't the only creatures wiped out by asteroid strike

Dinosaurs weren't the only creatures wiped out by asteroid strike

Ferns grow after a forest fire in the Pacific Northwest. They also reveal that birds surviving the end of the Cretaceous period had long sturdy legs made for living on the ground. "At all these locations we found a huge spike in fern growth immediately after the asteroid impact, which indicates the deforestation was global".

Looking at fossilized pollen grains and spores of ferns, and knowing that after the crash fires over fires started to spread all over the Earth, causing perpetual nights from the ash and acid rain, the team estimated that it took the forests nearly 1000 years to recover and allow birds to readapt. This most probably led to the extinction of the species of birds that lived mostly in trees. Any birds that roosted or perched in trees would've been homeless. "Forest loss was only one of several factors working in combination that determined which bird lineages survived", Jingmai O'Connor, a paleontologist at the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthroplogy in China, tells The Atlantic.

Birds that lived in trees became extinct as well, because the asteroid's impact destroyed the forests. That's not to mention the acid rain as well as the release of so much soot that it snuffed out sunlight, starving plants of the photons they needed to make food and causing significant cooling of the climate.

In addition, newly discovered fossil representatives of living groups of birds from the period shortly after the impact appear to have been ground dwellers, based on the proportions of their legs.

It means that all modern species of birds have a common ancestor, whose descendants had to learn to fly again over generations, suggest the scientists.

Dinosaurs weren't the only creatures wiped out by asteroid strike

Even though this may have been the case in some parts, particularly close to the impact site, any local effects would have soon been swamped by overall global warming, said Andrew Glikson, a palaeoclimatologist at the Australian National University, who was not involved with the study. "By a couple of millions of years after the asteroid impact, we have direct evidence of arboreal fossil birds".

"This place is known for having a attractive record across the interval that we are looking at - the so called Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary - the mass extinction event following the Chicxulub impact", MacLeod added. "Just a handful of ancestral bird family trees was successful in enduring the mass termination occasion 66 million years back, and all these days's remarkable living bird variety can be traced to these ancient survivors".

Studying entire paleoecosystems demonstrates how life in the world has actually developed through all the trials and adversities of the past, Dunn stated in an e-mail.

But it's also incredibly important to study what happened during the fifth mass extinction because many scientists believe we're entering the sixth mass extinction.

MacLeod painted a bleak picture: "Anything that's not killed by the thermal heat pulse likely had to deal with years of very little, if any, vegetation, and anything that survived that then had to survive 100,000 years of quite substantial greenhouse conditions". "We have to take these lessons to heart and act now to maintain today's extensive biodiversity".

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