London, Jan 14: Dinosaurs flourished in Europe until the asteroid impact that wiped them out 66 million years ago, a new study shows.
By looking at the variety and ages of their fossils, the team of British researchers has determined that dinosaurs remained diverse in European ecosystems very late into the Cretaceous - the final stage of dinosaur evolution.
For a long time, Europe was overshadowed by other continents as for the understanding of the nature, composition and evolution of latest Cretaceous continental ecosystems was concerned.
"Now we are on the brink of fathoming the significance of these new discoveries and of the strange and new story they tell about life at the end of the Dinosaur Era," explained Zoltan Csiki-Sava from University of Bucharest's faculty of geology and geophysics.
Fossils of latest Cretaceous dinosaurs are now commonly discovered in Spain, France, Romania and other countries.
In the Pyrenees of Spain and France, the best area in Europe for finding latest Cretaceous dinosaurs, meat and plant-eating species are present and seemingly flourishing during the final few hundred thousand years before the asteroid hit.
Everyone knows that an asteroid hit 66 million years ago and dinosaurs disappeared, but this story is mostly based on fossils from one part of the world - North America.
"We now know that European dinosaurs were thriving up to the asteroid impact, just like in North America. This is strong evidence that the asteroid really did kill off dinosaurs in their prime, all over the world at once," added Steve Brusatte from University of Edinburgh's school of geosciences.
The new study is published in the open access journal ZooKeys.