A team of scientists from Yale University have discovered "the youngest dinosaur" fossil ever, lending credence to the theory that the dinosaurs were wiped out when a meteor hit Earth.
The discovery began when the Yale researchers examined the a fossilised horn in the Hell Creek formation of Montana last year. In its report the researchers revealed that the horn belonged to a Triceratops-like creature named ceratopsian.
The creature's discovery is important as it was found 5-inches below the K-T boundary. The boundary is the geological layer in the Earth that marks the transition between the world's Cretaceous and Tertiary periods. It was between these two periods 65 million years ago that the a devastating meteor is believed to have hit Earth.
Until now many scientists have questioned the theory that it was the meteor that killed off the dinosaurs. Citing the lack of dinosaur fossils around the K-T boundary as proof, alternative theories speculate that another unknown cause killed off the dinosaurs long before the meteor hit. This inexplicable lack of fossils in the boundary has become known as the "three-meter gap".
Yale graduate student Tyler Lyson, director of the Marmarth Research Foundation boasted on the new find, "This discovery suggests the three-meter gap doesn't exist." Later adding, "The fact that this specimen was so close to the boundary indicates that at least some dinosaurs were doing fine right up until the impact."
The team is yet to ascertain the exact time period that the fossil lived, though it is believed to at most have been a few thousand years before the meteor hit.
The team is currently running tests to figure out just how close to the collision the creature lived:
"We should be able to verify that using the more sophisticated soil analysis technique rather than estimating the boundary's location based solely on a visual examination of the rock formations while in the field, which is what has typically been done in the past," commented Lyson.