Human ancestors ‘survived asteroid that killed dinosaurs’, reveals new study

July 19, 2023

As revealed by the statement from Bristol University, Humans’ ancestors survived the asteroid impact that wiped our the dinosaurs.

Placental mammals, an evolutionary group including human ancestors, dogs, and bats, are now confirmed to have walked the Earth alongside dinosaurs before their sudden extinction. Uncovered through meticulous fossil record analysis, this revelation showcases an overlap in history we previously only suspected. In other words, and as revealed by the statement from Bristol University, Humans’ ancestors survived the asteroid impact that wiped our the dinosaurs.

A Human Ancestor “Walked” With the Dinosaurs

When an asteroid struck Earth, it triggered a catastrophic event, leading to the demise of all non-avian dinosaurs in the Cretaceous-Paleogene (K-Pg) mass extinction. Scientists have long disputed whether placental mammals were present during this extinction event or if they only evolved after the dinosaurs disappeared. Existing fossils, found in rocks younger than 66 million years – the era of the asteroid strike – indicate that placental mammals emerged after the extinction. Yet, molecular data hints at an older age.

Groundbreaking Study Reveals Human Ancestors Coexisted With Dinosaurs,  Survived A Meteorite

Unraveling Mammalian History through Fossil Record Analysis

In a study published in the journal Current Biology, a team from the University of Bristol and the University of Fribourg carried out a statistical examination of the fossil record. They established that placental mammals did originate before the mass extinction, implying a brief coexistence with dinosaurs. However, modern lineages only began to evolve after the asteroid impact, perhaps due to the reduced competition.

A Glimpse into Mammalian Origins

Emily Carlisle, the lead author from Bristol’s School of Earth Sciences, remarked: “Our data originates from thousands of placental mammal fossils, and we could observe patterns of origination and extinction.” Based on this, they could estimate the evolution timeline of placental mammals.

Estimating Extinction Ages through Models

Daniele Silvestro from the University of Fribourg explained: “Our model estimates origination ages from first appearances in the fossil record and species diversity patterns.” The model can also estimate when a group went extinct based on the last appearances.

Professor Phil Donoghue from Bristol, emphasized that the study could shed light on the effect of events like the K-Pg mass extinction or the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM).

The Evolution of Primates, Lagomorphs, and Carnivores

Interestingly, primates, lagomorphs (rabbits and hares), and carnivores (dogs and cats) evolved shortly before the K-Pg mass extinction. This implies our ancestors survived the asteroid impact, potentially benefiting from the loss of their dinosaur competitors, leading to rapid diversification.