This is How Crocodiles Survived the Asteroid That Wiped Out Dinosaurs Millions of Years Ago
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A new study has shed light on the reason behind crocodiles surviving the asteroid that wiped out dinosaurs around 66 million years ago.
The findings published in the reputed journal Nature Communications Biology say that the crocodiles survived the asteroid because they were able to overcome the many environmental changes that happened after the asteroid strike.
Crediting the efficient and versatile body shape of the crocodiles, Dr Max Stockdale, lead author of the research, said this could be the explanation why the 200-million-year-old reptile survived after the asteroid strike while dinosaurs disappeared. Currently, there are 25 species of crocodiles living on the planet, and as per the research they look similar to the ones that existed in the Jurassic era. This is quite less when compared to the number of species of other animals like birds and lizards.
According to the research conducted by the University of Bristol, the slow evolution in the shape of crocodiles could be attributed to the reason that they had already developed a shape which was versatile enough to survive a ‘severe global catastrophe.
This environmental change governed a ‘stop-start’ pattern of evolution. The research explains that crocodiles follow punctuated equilibrium, a pattern of evolution. The rate of evolution in crocodiles is slow, however, they sometimes evolve more quickly due to environmental reasons.
Using a machine learning algorithm, the researchers determined the rate of evolution of the reptile.
They measured the body size to understand the rate of evolution as it can be indicative of several other factors such as the population size, food requirements of the animal, growth of the animal etc.
As per the report, this latest study backs another research published 20 years ago that suggested that the endurance of crocodiles is due to their shape.
There were many factors that helped crocodiles survive after the asteroid struck the Earth. One of it included the fact that they used the energy from the sun to survive as they needed warmth from the environment. Therefore, they were not dependent on food for energy like the warm-blooded animals.
The animal is robust which enables it to survive injuries. They can live in darkness and can navigate both in land or water. There was darkness after the asteroid strike as it triggered a nuclear winter.
Along with many other surviving tactics, crocodiles can also hold their breath underwater for an hour. The research team will move on now to finding why some types of prehistoric crocodiles died while others survived.