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Palaeontologists have discovered a fossil from a dinosaur that was wiped by the infamous Chicxulub asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs 66 million years ago. This fossilised leg of a thescelosaurus in North Dakota, USA offers an unprecedented glimpse into the last day dinosaurs roamed the earth. Researchers now say that they have found the fossilised leg alongside a fragment of the space rock that killed it.
Experts stated that the leg of this herbivore, which was fossilised with some fragments of its skins still intact, is the first dinosaur victim to be from the famous asteroid strike ever discovered.
Palaeontologists believe that the dinosaur was buried on the day of impact, which could be why it was preserved perfectly.
Phillip Manning, a professor of natural history at the University of Manchester said: “It’s absolutely bonkers.”
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, he noted that the thescelosaurus leg discovered at the Tanis dig site in North Dakota was the “ultimate dinosaur drumstick”.
He said: “The time resolution we can achieve at this site is beyond our wildest dreams …
“This really should not exist and it’s absolutely gobsmackingly beautiful.
“I never dreamt in all my career that I would get to look at something a) so time-constrained; and b) so beautiful, and also tells such a wonderful story.”
The dig was filmed for a new BBC documentary titled Dinosaurs: The Final Day with Sir David Attenborough, which will also review the findings of the researchers.
Mr Manning added: “When Sir David looked at ‘[the leg], he smiled and said ‘that is an impossible fossil’. And I agreed.”
Alongside the thescelosaurus leg, the palaeontologists also uncovered the fossiled remains of a fish that had breathed in the impact debris from the dreaded asteroid.
The asteroid, which struck the Earth off the coast of Mexico at the end of the Cretaceous era, is believed to be the cause of the demise of all dinosaur species except those that evolved into birds.
Robert DePalma, the University of Manchester graduate student who is leading the Tanis dig, said: “We’ve got so many details with this site that tell us what happened moment by moment, it’s almost like watching it play out in the movies.
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“You look at the rock column, you look at the fossils there, and it brings you back to that day.”
Speaking to the BBC, he said: “This is the most incredible thing that we could possibly imagine here, the best case scenario… the one thing that we always wanted to find in this site and here we’ve got it.
“Here we’ve got a creature that was buried on the day of impact – we didn’t know at that point yet if it had died during the impact but now it looks like it probably did.”
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