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Leaves As Old As Dinosaurs!
News story originally written on April 16, 2003

Wonder why you never see a dinosaur in your yard?

Well, they are extinct of course! So, there are no more of them living on Earth.

Dinosaurs became extinct 65 million years ago. They were not the only living things to die out at that time. Many other animals became extinct too. Now scientists have found that many ancient plants also became extinct just like the dinosaurs did. They found that only a small number from their study area survived.

The scientists looked at thousands of fossil leaves! As they looked at the leaves, they noticed that insects had munched some of them. At the time of the dinosaurs, the insects had nibbled at the ancient leaves, just like insects do today. Some insects nibble the edges of leaves. Other drill holes in the middle. Many of the insects that ate the plants also became extinct.

The plants and animals may have died because of a big change in climate that happened after a giant asteroid hit the Earth. Today, our climate is changing very quickly too. The scientists hope that learning about the past can help us understand how climate change will affect plants and animals in the future.

Last modified April 16, 2003 by Lisa Gardiner.

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA