Fossils have fascinated human beings for years because of the incredible history behind them and their ability to enlighten us with more details of the past world. A desire to know and understand the past helps us learn about the world today and allows us to look toward the future. Fossils have enabled us to pinpoint when exactly the last dinosaurs lived till.
The truth is that while most living organisms can leave traces behind as fossils, only tough and hard exteriors of animals and plants can fossilize. This includes bones, shells and teeth.
What are fossils?
There are also footprints in mud, swimming tracks, animal waste, and entire nest with eggs which have turned into stoned fossils. These begin to form when a living organism dies and is buried in a specific environment. This can include being buried in a mud or in water.
How are fossils formed?
With the passage of time, the process of sedimentation allows them to turn into rock. This next step which follows this process is called petrification. This is where the minerals replace the natural material. Minerals can also fill in spaces of the cast left behind of decaying bones.
Other examples of process which formed fossils include small insects trapped in tree sap and hardening to form tree sap. Also, volcanic eruptions can trap animals in hot ash and leave just the outline of the animal. Plants also fossilize to form coal and the most common fossils are those of corals, snails and clams.
Land animals like dinosaurs have fewer records of forming fossils unless they died near a large water base.
How did dinosaurs die?
There is much debate between scientists and researchers about what caused the demise of these fascinating creatures which traversed the Earth. Mainstream theories center largely around the meteor hit to the Earth which wiped out all of them. Alternate theories suggest that dinosaurs were already on the brink of extinction due to dilapidating environmental conditions.
The youngest dinosaur to ever have been found is an adult triceratops. These were known to be about 9 meters tall and weigh 12 tons. The horn was discovered by researchers in south-eastern Montana and is suggested to be older than the last deposited fossil around 65 million years ago.
Other theories also suggest that the collision caused all creatures that were not close to water to explode with heat intensity or by a microwave pulse. Due to new revelations it can be impossible to determine exactly when the last dinosaur died.