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Old 21-04-14, 20:16   #1
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Arrow Right Asteroid Wiped out Dinosaurs/Killed off 83% of Lizards & Snakes

The Asteroid that Wiped out the Dinosaurs and Nearly Killed off all of Earth's Lizards and Snakes - Study Claims

  • Massive impact killed off 83 per cent of reptiles, new study claims
  • No species weighing more than one pound thought to have survived
  • Today's reptiles only survived because competitors were killed off
By Daily Mail Science

Huge numbers of lizards and snakes were wiped out by the asteroid which killed off the dinosaurs when it struck Earth 65million years ago, a study claims.
The massive impact off the coast of Mexico which led to the great extinction also wiped out up to 83 per cent of the planet's reptiles, scientists now believe.
Bigger species suffered most, with no species weighing more than around one pound surviving.

Extinction level event: The massive asteroid which struck the Earth just off the coast of Mexico 65million years ago
wiped out nearly all of the planets reptiles, as well as killing off the dinosaurs, a new study claims

Experts who studied the fossil record of lizards and snakes in North America found evidence that the asteroid cataclysm was more devastating than previously thought.

'The asteroid event is typically thought of as affecting the dinosaurs primarily,' said lead scientist Dr Nicholas Longrich, from Yale University in the U.S.
'But it basically cut this broad swathe across the entire ecosystem, taking out everything. Snakes and lizards were hit extremely hard.'

A remarkable range of reptile species lived during the last days of the dinosaurs, said the scientists writing in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
They included tiny lizards and others up to six feet long which hunted prey in the swamplands of what is now Montana.

One snake the size of a boa constrictor was large enough to take the eggs and young of many dinosaur species.

An iguana sitting by a swimming pool:
The researchers say the ancestors of today's reptiles didn't win because they were better adapted, but because all their competitors were eliminated


The first dinosaur to have walked on Earth may have been found by scientists.

Nyasasaurus parringtoni would have been alive 10 to 15 million years before any previously known dinosaurs - and more than 150million years before the mighty Tyrannosaurus Rex.

The size of a Labrador and slight of build, Nyasasaurus had a five foot-long tail and likely walked upright on two legs.

The fossilised bones were collected during a Cambridge University expedition to Tanzania in the 1930s and gradually examined over the decades by Natural History Museum palaeontologist Alan Charig.

'Lizards and snakes rivalled the dinosaurs in terms of diversity, making it just as much an "age of the lizards" as an "age of the dinosaurs",' said Dr Longrich.

Many of the reptiles represented ancient families that disappeared after the asteroid impact at the end of the Cretaceous period.
Among the most diverse lizard branches to vanish was the Polyglyphanodontia, a large family including up to 40 per cent of all lizards then living in North America.

While examining the fossil collections, the scientists came across an unnamed member of this group which they called Obamadon gracilis.

The name is derived from US president Barack Obama and the Latin for tooth and slender.

'We're just having fun with taxonomy,' said Dr Longrich.

Obamadon measured less than a foot long and probably ate insects.

Survivors of the asteroid strike evolved into the 9,000 species of lizards and snakes alive today.
Dr Longrich added: 'They didn't win because they were better adapted, they basically won by default, because all their competitors were eliminated.'
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