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A dinosaur named Sue, the largest and most intact T. rex ever found, has a new lair at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago. (December 18)

Highlights of History

  • The prisoner is described as "the most important paleontological discovery of the new century."
  • The animals were remarkably preserved, about 66 million years after they were killed.
  • ] The asteroid that hit the earth that day killed 75 percent of all species on the planet.

It's like a time capsule of the end of the world.

66 million years ago, in what is now North Dakota, a group of animals died together, just minutes after a huge asteroid smashed into the ground near today's Mexico.

On Friday, scientists announced the discovery of the jumbled, fossil remains of the animals, all killed when a tsunami-like wave and a torrent of rocks, sand and glass buried them alive.

This cemetery of fish, mammals, insects and dinosaur is a unique, first and foremost discovery of the exact day, where life on Earth changed forever, according to the study director author Robert DeP Alma, a curator at Palm Beach Museum of Natural History.

"This is the first mass death collection of large organisms that someone has found associated with (the asteroid effect)." DePalma, who is also a doctoral student at the University of Kansas.

An artist's perception of the last moments of a group of animals killed a few minutes after an asteroid hit the earth 66 million years ago. (Photo: Robert DePalma / University of Kansas)

In a statement he said that nowhere else on earth "can you find such a collection consisting of a large number of species representing different ages of organisms and different stages of life that all died at the same time on the same day. "

DePalma added that the find gives spectacular new details to what might be the most important event ever affecting life on Earth. 19659009] At the grassland, scientists found hot-glass fish in their gills from flaming dirt that shower down study co-author Jan Smit from the University of Amsterdam said his colleagues discovered charred trees, signs of a tsunami in the country, melted amber and even dinosaur footsteps just before their death.

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The Asteroid Effect and Resulting Mass Destruction, which researchers approximately 11 KT border marked the end of the chalk year, the aftermath of the infamous asteroid collision killing 75 percent of all species on the ground including the dinosaurs. It is the planet's latest mass extinction.

A perfectly preserved 66 million year old fish was recently discovered in today's North Dakota. (Photo: Robert DePalma / University of Kansas)

"We have understood that bad things have happened right after the impact, but no one has found this kind of pistol proof," David Burnham, a study co-author and geologist at the University of Kansas in a statement. "People have said," We get this blast killed the dinosaurs, but why don't we have dead bodies everywhere? "Well, now we have organs. They are not dinosaurs, but I think they will eventually be found."

The discovery was made on a site called Tanis in North Dakota's Hell Creek Formation, a known area for fossils.

Robert DePalma and field assistant Kylie Ruble excavate fossil carcasses from the Tanis deposit in North Dakota. (Photo: Robert DePalma / University of Kansas)

DePalma understands the importance of the exact moment in Earth's history: "This particular event is tied directly to all of us – for every mammal on Earth. essentially where we inherited the land. Nothing was the same after that influence. It became a planet of mammals rather than a planet of dinosaurs. "

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The research paper – Prelude to Extinction: a seismic-induced onshore surge deposit on the KPg border, North Dakota – will be published Monday in the peer reviewed journal Proceedings of the National Science Academy.

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Contributing: Associated Press

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