Three small primitive mammals walk over a Triceratops skeleton, one of the last dinosaurs to exist before the mass extinction that gave way to the age of mammals.
A genus of these ceratopsid dinosaur lived during the late Maastrichtian stage of the Late Cretaceous Period, around 68 to 65 million years ago (Mya) in what is now North America. This is the last dinosaur of the last genera to appear before the great meteor extinction.
Bearing a large bony frill and three horns on its large four-legged body, and looking similar to the modern rhinoceros, Triceratops genus is one of the most well known ceratopsid dinosaurs. It lived amongst and was preyed upon by the feared Tyrannosaurus Rex
Scientists think they have has found the last dinosaur to die and be preserved in the fossil record before the catastrophic meteor impact 65 million years ago.
The finding suggest that dinosaurs did not go extinct prior to the impact and lending support to the theory that is was the impact that cause their extinction.
Researchers from Yale University discovered the fossilized horn of a ceratopsian – likely a Triceratops, which are common to the area – in the Hell Creek formation in Montana last year. The fossil buried just five inches below the K-T boundary, the geological layer that marks the transition from the Cretaceous period to the Tertiary period at the time of the mass extinction that took place 65 million years ago.
Since the impact hypothesis for the demise of the dinosaurs was first proposed more than 30 years ago, many scientists have come to believe the meteor caused the mass extinction and wiped out the dinosaurs, but a sticking point has been an apparent lack of fossils buried within the 10 feet of rock below the K-T boundary. The seeming anomaly has come to be known as the “three-meter gap.” This specimen was so close to the boundary indicates that at least some dinosaurs were doing fine right up until the meteor’s impact.
Excerpts and Image courtesy of http://goo.gl/59H7E