Saturday April 23, 2016

Seeds saved dinosaur-birds from mass extinction

Bird-like dinosaurs' taste for meat was their undoing

Bird-like dinosaurs' taste for meat was their undoing (Danielle Dufault, Philip Currie Museum)

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For many years, scientists have been puzzled as to why the ancestors of today's birds survived the mass extinction at the end of the Cretaceous, 66 million years ago. Part of that mystery involved the fact that the similar bird-like dinosaurs did not survive.

Now a new study by Derek Larson, the Assistant Curator at the Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum in Grand Prairie, Alberta, has found that the answer relates to diet.

Carnivorous bird-like dinosaurs, those with teeth, disappeared suddenly when the asteroid hit because their diet disappeared as well. But those with beaks survived - and gave rise to modern birds - because of their ability to eat seeds. Seeds remained in abundance in the aftermath of the mass extinction.

- Paper in Current Biology
- Royal Ontario Museum release
Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum release
Globe and Mail story
- Cell Press release at Phys.org
CBC News story