Rock & Gem
Debates about the Day the Dinosaurs Died Continue
The consensus among most paleontologists holds that non-avian dinosaurs were annihilated by a huge asteroid impacting Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula approximately 66 million years ago. However, skeptics argue that dinosaurs were already in decline and largely extinct a million years earlier because of the effects of massive volcanic activity in places like India. In 2019, claims were made about a site called Tanis in North Dakota that purportedly held evidence of a dinosaur community that was thriving right up to the asteroid’s impact. These dinosaurs were buried by a colossal tidal wave rolling over North America from the impact in Mexico.
Those initial reports were roundly criticized by earth scientists because they appeared in The New Yorker magazine, not a peer-reviewed scientific journal. Indeed, Robert DePalma, now a
Ph.D. candidate at the University of Manchester, and colleagues did publish an earlier paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. That paper reported on fossilized fish and did not mention dinosaur remains because journal reviewers and referees determined the evidence was not yet fully verified.
Now, as reported in the journal Science, DePalma and colleagues such as Riley Wehr (Florida Atlantic University) are making amends. They’ve provided clarifying details and data about dinosaur remains at the Tanis site, and they note that peer-reviewed papers are in process and will soon be published in a scientific journal.
So, dinosaurs were thriving until an asteroid wiped them out and the very day of that impact is recorded at Tanis. Case closed. Right? Well, say fellow paleontologists, let’s wait for those peer-reviewed papers.