The end of the Cretace, 66 million years ago, saw the 12-kilometer-diameter bolide that decimated most of life on Earth plummet from the sky – according to what was thought today, the asteroid only hastened the decline of dinosaurs. However, paleontologists at the University of Bath and the London Museum of Natural History believe that, had there not been an impact, these animals would continue to dominate most of Earth’s ecosystems.
“Previous studies concluded that dinosaurs would have died anyway, as they were in decline in the late Cretaceous. However, by including more recent dinosaur family trees and a broader set of types of these animals, only half of the results point to that conclusion, ”explains paleontologist Joe Bonsor, lead author of the study published in the Royal Society Open Science.
The research team, using statistical modeling, used different dinosaur family trees to assess whether each of the main groups of dinosaurs was still capable of producing new species at that time, that is, generating diversity – the basis for the survival of a species.
The group had to deal with the gaps in the fossil record – to get around the problem, statistical methods were used to overcome these sampling biases, observing the speciation rates of dinosaur families instead of simply counting the number of species belonging to each family .