Dinosaurs were THRIVING prior to the asteroid impact that wiped them out 66 ...

Scientists have long theorized that dinosaurs were on the decline before the catastrophic asteroid impact wiped them out 66 million years ago –but new study suggests the prehistoric beasts may have been thriving.

Previous works used fossil records to assess diversity of dinosaurs, but researchers in the latest study say how bones are preserved and other factors produce sampling bias.

Teams from the University of Bath and the Natural History Museum collected a set of different dinosaur family trees and used statistical modelling to assess if each of the main dinosaur groups was able to produce new species at the time.

This allowed them to examine the rates of speciation of dinosaur families rather than counting the number of species belonging to the family, revealing some groups, such as hadrosaurs and ceratopsians, were flourishing on Earth before the mass extinction.

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Scientists have long theorized that dinosaurs were on the decline before the catastrophic asteroid impact wiped them out 66 million years ago –but new study suggests the prehistoric beasts may have been thriving

Scientists have long theorized that dinosaurs were on the decline before the catastrophic asteroid impact wiped them out 66 million years ago –but new study suggests the prehistoric beasts may have been thriving

Lead author Joe Bonsor is undertaking his PhD jointly at the Milner Center for Evolution at the University of Bath and the Natural History Museum.

'Previous studies done by others have used various methods to draw the conclusion that dinosaurs would have died out anyway, as they were in decline towards the end of the Cretaceous period,' he said.

'However, we show that if you expand the dataset to include more recent dinosaur family trees and a broader set of dinosaur types, the results don't actually all point to this conclusion – in fact only about half of them do.' 

Bonsor and his team note that the reason other studies may went in the other direction is because gaps in the fossil record make it difficult to assess dinosaur diversity.

Teams from the University of Bath and the Natural History Museum collected a set of different dinosaur family trees and used statistical modelling to assess if each of the main dinosaur groups was able to produce new species at the time

Teams from the University of Bath and the Natural History Museum collected a set of different dinosaur family trees and used statistical modelling to assess if each of the main dinosaur groups was able to produce new species at the time 

This is due to how bones are preserved as fossils, how accessible the fossils are in the rock to allow them to be found and the locations where palaeontologists search for them.

In the study, the team used statistical methods to overcome these sampling biases, examining the rates of speciation of dinosaur families rather than counting the number of species belonging to the family.

'The main point of our paper is that it isn't as simple as looking at a few trees and making a decision – the large unavoidable biases in the fossil record and lack of data can often show a decline in species, but this may not be a reflection of the reality at the time,' Mr Bonsor said.

'Our data don't currently show they were in decline, in fact some groups such as hadrosaurs and ceratopsians were thriving and

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