About 65 million years ago, a giant asteroid crashed into Earth, likely somewhere in Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, triggering an mass extinction. Recently, research has been done on the ancient reptiles and mass extinction events. According to Dr. Hank Woolley, the survival of the human species could be improved by understanding the resilience of ancient lizards and their world.
Woolley’s research often brought him to the field. In this perspective, paleontologists have tried to provide contextual data to modern bioecologists to help them understand the ecosystems current. According to their study, humans can behave like lizards and mark fossil records for the coming years.
For this study, Woolley partnered with Nate Smith and David Bottjer, professors of Earth Sciences, Biological Sciences, and Environmental Sciences. These researchers at USC Dornsife first embarked on the fossil hunt.
A study of biodiversity
Woolley’s work shed light on how different beings on a once warmer planet lived, especially lizards. Indeed, no four-legged animal survived extinct, with the exception of a few cold-blooded creatures of the family of these small reptiles.
“The only way we can even begin to think about what life will be like in a warmer world without an ice cap is to go back in time to the fossil record.”
Hank Woolley, graduate student in residence at the Dinosaur Institute at the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History
Hank Woolley participated in many excavations fossils like the one on the Stegosaurus. The aim was to discover the regions of the world which best shelter the biodiversity during the hottest periods. The results of this research have made it possible to reconstruct the places where the beings lived and cultivated food.
A chance of survival for humanity
One fossil record shows that the Earth has rebounded from numerous mass extinction events. In addition, that of the lizards represented the first event extinction of humanity. As for this, the team was able to find conclusive results, but still has to face certain limits.
“As humans, we have evolved in an ice cap world. Earth has gone through hotter and colder periods, but this is totally unprecedented in terms of what humans have evolved and are used to living through. […] While we are an extremely adaptable species and can survive very well, there will also be untold suffering that will occur if we do nothing about it now. ”