A new report from the University of Kansas reveals that some “exquisitely-preserved” fossils have been found in North Dakota’s Hell Creek Formation. This is quite an important discovery because it shows the fossils of fish with hot glass in their gills that were formed after a massive asteroid slammed into Mexico. This is the same asteroid that wiped out somewhere around 75 percent of the total animal and plant species that were living on Earth at that time.
The newly discovered fish fossils are giving us our first glimpse at a “detailed snapshot of the terrible moments right after the Chicxulub impact – the most cataclysmic event known to have befallen life on Earth,” according to the University of Kansas.
The interesting thing about these fossils is that the fishes are cartilaginous instead of bony and this usually makes it more difficult and rarer for animals to become fossils. The impacted caused by the massive asteroid sent a rushing surge of water, thus creating the “tangled mass of freshwater fish, terrestrial vertebrates, trees, branches, logs, marine ammonites and other creatures,” as explained by Robert DePalma who is a University of Kansas doctoral student in geology.
Every living thing died “pretty suddenly because of the violence in the water” according to David Burnham who is the co-author of the study. We should note that David Burnham is a preparator of vertebrate paleontology at the University of Kansas Biodiversity Institute. The co-author of the study also said that one of the fossilized fishes was broken in half after it hit a tree.
The discovery of these new fish fossils is going to help scientists find out more about the day when the dinosaurs passed away and the mammals “took over” the planet.
“We’ve understood that bad things happened right after the impact, but nobody’s found this kind of smoking-gun evidence,” he said. “People have said, ‘We get that this blast killed the dinosaurs, but why don’t we have dead bodies everywhere?’ Well, now we have bodies. They’re not dinosaurs, but I think those will eventually be found, too.”
Joe Peterson was born and raised in San Francisco. He has contributed to Discovery Magazine, Cottage Country Magazine and Tech Insider. As a journalist for Swerd Media, Joe mostly covers national news. Aside from earning a living as a freelance journalist, Joe also spends much of his time training for ultra running.