What Killed the Dinosaurs Drove the Kangaroo's Cousin to Extinction

It's said that the extinction event was a turning point for mammals, allowing us to thrive and evolve. But this cataclysmic event wasn't a boon for every mammal.

The theories behind the demise of the dinosaurs is well-known. Death by asteroid is one of the more popular possibilities, but volcanic eruptions may have had a part to play. Regardless, these reptilian giants died-out--food became scarce and temperatures dropped, allowing our, smaller furry mammalian ancestors to have their time in the sun. But Eric Mark of Forbes explains that our species could have been wiped out just as easily, according to a recent study.

One of the authors on the research team published in the journal ZooKeys, Dr. Steve Brusatte from the University of Edinburgh, said in a press release:

“The classic tale is that dinosaurs died out and mammals, which had been waiting in the wings for over 100 million years, then finally had their chance. But our study shows that many mammals came perilously close to extinction. If a few lucky species didn’t make it through, then mammals may have gone the way of the dinosaurs and we wouldn’t be here.”

The disruption of the dinosaurs allowed mammals a unique opportunity at the end of the Cretaceous period to survive and thrive as they hadn't before. However, metatherian mammals (animals with pouches) suffered great losses after the cataclysmic event. From fossil records in America's Great Plains, researchers found that diversity among the species dropped significantly after the event and an estimated two-thirds of them died out in North America alone. The study explained that this loss may explain why marsupials can only be found in unique places, such as Australia and South America.

This extinction event for the kangaroo's and opossum's cousin allowed placental mammals (mice, humans, dolphins) to evolve and thrive into the Paleogene period and beyond.

Read more at Forbes

Photo Credit: Marie Hale/Flickr

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

10 books to check out from Jordan Peterson's 'Great Books' list

The Canadian professor has an extensive collection posted on his site.

Jordan Peterson with Carl Jung and the cover art of Jaak Panksepp's 'Affective Neuroscience' (Image: Chris Williamson/Getty Images/Big Think)
Personal Growth
  • Peterson's Great Books list features classics by Orwell, Jung, Huxley, and Dostoevsky.
  • Categories include literature, neuroscience, religion, and systems analysis.
  • Having recently left Patreon for "freedom of speech" reasons, Peterson is taking direct donations through Paypal (and Bitcoin).
Keep reading Show less

Radical theory says our universe sits on an inflating bubble in an extra dimension

Cosmologists propose a groundbreaking model of the universe using string theory.

Getty Images/Suvendu Giri
Surprising Science
  • A new paper uses string theory to propose a new model of the universe.
  • The researchers think our universe may be riding a bubble expanded by dark energy.
  • All matter in the universe may exist in strings that reach into another dimension.
Keep reading Show less

Should you invest in China's stock market? Know this one thing first.

Despite incredible economic growth, it is not necessarily an investor's paradise.

  • China's stock market is just 27 years old. It's economy has grown 30x over that time.
  • Imagine if you had invested early and gotten in on the ground floor.
  • Actually, you would have lost money. Here's how that's possible.