Birds had to relearn flight after meteor wiped out dinosaurs

Fossil records indicate merely flightless birds survived when T rex was wiped off the Earth

Birds had to rediscover flight after the meteor strike that killed off the dinosaurs, scientists say.

The cataclysm 66 m years ago not only wiped out Tyrannosaurus rex and ground-dwelling dinosaur species, but also flying birds, a detailed survey of the fossil record suggests.

As woodlands burned around the world, the only birds to survive were flightless emu-like species that lived on the ground.

” Seeming at the fossil record, at plants and birds, there are multiple lines of proof is recommended that the forest canopies collapsed ,” said Regan Dunn, a member of the team from the Field Museum in Chicago, US.” Perching birds ran extinct because there were no more perches .”

The six to nine-mile-wide meteor struck the Earth off the coast of Mexico, releasing a million times more energy than the largest atom bomb. Hot debris raining from the sky is thought to have triggered global wildfires immediately after potential impacts.

Fossils
Fossil records reveal that birds surviving the end of the Cretaceous period had long sturdy legs for living on the ground. Photo: Denver Museum of Nature& Science/ University of Bath

It took hundreds or even thousands of years for the world’s forests of palms and pines to recover. Fossil records from New Zealand, Japan, Europe and North America, all show evidence of mass deforestation. They also reveal that birds surviving the end of the Cretaceous period had long sturdy legs made for living on the ground. They resembled emus and kiwis, said the researchers whose findings are reported in the journal Current Biology.

” The ancestors of modern tree-dwelling birds did not move into the trees until the woods had recovered from the extinction-causing asteroid ,” told Daniel Field, from the University of Bath and a co-author of the paper published in Current Biology.

” Today, birds are the most diverse and globally widespread group of terrestrial vertebrate animals- there are nearly 11,000 living species ,” he added.” Merely a handful of ancestral bird ancestries succeeded in surviving the mass extinction event 66 million years ago, and all of today’s amazing living bird diversity can be traced to these ancient survivors .”

The team are now focused on reconstructing the recovery of bird populations and how new species emerged and thrived in the ecological niche left by the extinction of dinosaurs.

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