Incredible cemetery of dinosaurs raising eyebrows in paleontology

For some it is the finding of the century, but for others it does not add up. At least not yet.

It is said that an extraordinary site discovered in North Dakota, in the United States, is home to a treasure trove of fossils that show an impact of meteorites 66 million years ago that generated a wave of tsunami in an inland sea that killed and buried fish, mammals, insects and a dinosaur.

The devastating event created a fossilized cemetery that has preserved ancient animals and debris from the space rock that give an idea of ​​what was happening in the minutes and hours after the most important mbad extinction event in the history of the Earth.

At least, that is the theory.

A paleontologist named Robert DePalma, a doctoral student at the University of Kansas, has been working on the site with his team since 2013. Although simplified, the previous theory is how he has come to understand the place of life change with which he has stumbled

He believes that after finding a diverse bed of fossils and tectites (gravel-sized bodies formed from earth debris ejected during meteorite impacts) he has discovered a site that represents the KT (or K-Pg) boundary important: the terrestrial layer that separates the Cretaceous and the Paleogene period.

"This is the first mbad death set of large organisms that anyone has found badociated with the K-T limit," DePalma said. Berkeley News.

"In no other section of KT limits 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, all of which died at the same time, the same day "

According to him, that includes a series of dinosaur remains. In other words, an almost incontrovertible proof that the dinosaurs became extinct due to the ecological consequences of an asteroid impact.

What is emerging as one of the greatest palaeontology stories of the century, was sparked by a broad New Yorker The article entitled "The day the dinosaurs died" was filled with a series of incredible affirmations. But he preceded a research paper published in Procedures of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) that did not live up to the expectations made by the magazine.

Excavations of this type are often funded by museums, universities and even governments, but due to the large amount of money that may be at stake when it comes to exceptional fossil collections, there is also a private industry around the excavations.

In this case, DePalma has reached an undisclosed commercial agreement with a rancher who owns the lands surrounding the site and has kept his discovery very close to his chest for the past five years.

the New Yorker The article, which is both Mr. DePalma's 37-year profile and that of the excavation site, paints the image of a site that is "the Holy Grail" and more of the world of paleontology. But few people have actually seen the sacred chalice, so to speak.

The geophysicist and impact expert at Purdue University, Dr. Jay Melosh, who was not part of the research but edited the PNAS document, called it the "discovery of the century" for the field.

But many others have raised questions about why such incredible claims have been made in the media, but not in the academic world.

Dr. Stephen Brusatte, paleontologist at the University of Edinburgh and author of The rise and fall of dinosaurs, is one of those who have questions about the extraordinary claims made by the team that, until now, has presided silently over the site

"This is an amazing site, but I do not see any evidence of a dinosaur cemetery! Something is weird," he wrote on Twitter.

In an email to, he said he was "very excited about this discovery," but noted that, apart from a single partial dinosaur hip bone mentioned in the newspaper, the ideas of a dinosaur cemetery reported in the media lacks real evidence until now.

"The New Yorker The article reports on a cemetery of dinosaurs with bones of many types of dinosaurs, along with feathers, eggs and even embryos, "he said. "I am afraid that there is no evidence, apart from a single partial bone, that I or other dinosaur paleontologists should evaluate at this time."

Dr. Brusatte, 35, is widely recognized as one of the leading paleontologists of his generation. He has written more than 100 peer-reviewed scientific articles during his decade of research in the field and has also named and described more than 10 new species of dinosaurs.

It is strange to him that many of Mr. DePalma's statements presented in the media are not mentioned in the PNAS journal article.

the New Yorker the reports of pieces on the long feathers found at the site where DePalma is "convinced that they are dinosaur feathers", the mammalian remains of a mammal are remotely related to primates and the signs of what he believes It was an old burrowing mammal.

"A lot of things in the New Yorker The article is completely absent from the document, "Dr. Brusatte added. "The geology is very credible, but there is not yet enough evidence to evaluate the appearance of the dinosaurs in history."

Brian Switek is a scientific writer who specializes in paleontology and author of My dear Brontosaurus: on the road with old bones, new science and our favorite dinosaurs.

It is also strange to him that such a high level of secrecy has been maintained throughout the site, while only a few details have been included in the peer-reviewed journal.

"I think it's strange that so much preliminary work has been done, and they are sure of the findings in the New Yorker "The articles are part of the same phrase, that those fossils were not mentioned in pbading," he told

It is a typical practice for paleontologists to compile the "fauna lists" of the species present in an excavation site, he explained, and was surprised that one was not provided in the document.

Mr. DePalma and his team have cited concerns about poaching for not opening the site to many other researchers, something that is reportedly happening in the field. But Mr. Switek said that such an argument "does not hold water" in professional paleontology.

"The information and details of the location should be shared with other professionals who wish to investigate, badist or otherwise investigate this site in accordance with the basic ethics of science," he said.

The hype around the site, largely produced by the New Yorker The article has left "a lot of people scratching their heads, particularly due to the lack of coincidence of the statements in the story against the evidence in the document," he added.

Mr. DePalma could not be reached for comment, but it is said that there is more research work related to the site that is on the way.

At least one thing is certain, as Mr. DePalma's thesis advisor at the University of Kansas said, the site will keep the specialists busy for at least half a century.

And, as Dr. Brusatte said on "It would be incredible if everything were true."

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