Munching on seeds probably kept birds alive during catastrophic ecosystem collapse

In a paper published on Thursday in the journal Current Biology, scientists have suggested that munching on seeds might have kept birds alive during the times of the widespread devastation and extinction.

In a phone interview with The Christian Science Monitor, lead author of the study Derek Larson said that during the catastrophic ecosystem collapse that took place following the asteroid impact leading to the extinction, seeds might have been among the most abundant available food-resources.

Plants would have faced a lot of difficulty in growth due to the dramatic climate change, volcanism, an atmosphere packed with, and other ill effects of the asteroid impact. Due to lack of food, the food-eating herbivores and carnivores would have struggled for survival.

However, seeds are flexible, and being present in soil, they can stay useful and eatable for around 50 years. But now all can possibly consume this resource.

Present day birds have been thought to be descended from maniraptoran dinosaurs, a group of tiny theropod dinosaurs. Almost all maniraptorans probably were carnivorous, a diet that demands a mouth packed with teeth.

However, the scientists suggested that the same teeth might have developed as a problem for these-bird-like dinosaurs to stay alive on seeds post the asteroid hit. Instead, the toothless, beaked members of their group were able to survive depending on seeds. Scientists have failed to pinpoint a toothless, birdlike dinosaur due to gaps in the fossil record.

In a phone interview with the Monitor, Thomas Williamson, curator of paleontology at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science in Albuquerque, said, “We don’t know a lot about small theropods during the late Cretaceous”. He wasn’t involved in the study. Small theropod bonesLS