20 July 2011
Posted in DinoDigs
A discovery from Montana’s Hell Creek Formation leads researchers to believe the Triceratops may have been the last dinosaur standing. At 65 million years old, the rhinoceros-like, three-horned Triceratops would be the youngest dinosaur known to man. The dino’s age falls into the Cretaceous-Tertiary (K-T) period where scientists believe all non-avian, or non bird-like, dinos became extinct. This finding could prove the “3-meter gap” theory false.
The 3-meter gap theory suggests dinosaurs gradually died out before the K-T event 65 million years ago. Those who support this theory believe a meteor couldn’t have killed all the dinosaurs at once because there is a segment free from any fossils. The recent discovery at Hell Creek seems to prove that theory wrong. According to the article on Discovery News, The Hell Creek Triceratops “was not only found within that 3-meter region, but it also exists at the upper reaches of it, proving that at least one dinosaur and presumably more were still alive when the meteorite blasted into Chicxulub, Mexico.” Thus, the opposing theory to the 3-meter gap suggests dinosaurs went extinct in masses because a meteor struck their homeland.
Researchers are still discovering fossils of small mammals that lived after the KT event in the Montana area. The mammals, including hoofed condylarths and rodent like multiuberculates, had to adapt and relocate after the dinosaurs went extinct. Why certain creatures survived the K-T extinction may never be known but science suggests their diet had something to do with it. Dinosaur extinction is a mystery waiting to be solved. Archeologists and researchers are continually looking to solve the case, so discoveries like the Triceratops in Montana are helpful pieces added to the puzzle.