To reach their conclusion, the paleobiologists analyzed thousands of fossil remains of species that inhabited during the Cretaceous period, more than 66 million years ago.
The in-depth analysis of a series of fossil records of species that inhabited the planet during the Cretaceous period, between 145 and 72 million years ago, revealed that an evolutionary relative of humans coexisted with dinosaurs for a brief period, before they these became extinct, according to the University of Bristol (United Kingdom).
According to recent research published in the journal Current Biology, a team of paleobiologists determined, thanks to a statistical analysis of the fossil record, that placental mammals (a group that includes humans, dogs, and bats, among others) arose before the Cretaceous-Paleogene (K-Pg) mass extinction.
For now, only placental mammal fossils have been found in rocks less than 66 million years old, a time period that coincides with the impact of the asteroid that caused the extinction of the dinosaurs. However, the molecular data suggest an older age for the emergence of this group of animals.
an old debate
This situation, they indicate, has given rise to debate among academic circles about whether placental mammals coexisted with dinosaurs or whether they evolved only after the asteroid impact.
During their study, the experts analyzed thousands of fossil placental mammals to determine the patterns of their origin and extinction, with which they were able to estimate when the different lineages of this group appeared, as well as when they diversified and evolved.
The results of their analysis show that primates (the taxonomic group to which humans belong), the Lagomorpha (relatives of rabbits and hares) and the Carnivora (which would give rise to dogs and cats) appeared just before the mass extinction K -Pg, which means that our ancestors coexisted with the dinosaurs.
After surviving the asteroid impact, the researchers explain, placental mammals diversified rapidly, perhaps aided by the loss of competition from the dinosaurs, giving rise to many of the species we know today.
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