WASHINGTON (WNEW) — As the Smithsonian begins its 5-year restoration plan for the National Museum of Natural History’s dinosaur bones, comes a new report that suggests the colossal beasts were extremely unlucky that the asteroid that wiped them out hit the Earth when it did.

A few million years earlier or later, and the meteor strike might not have caused such widespread extinction, reports Live Science.

A team of researchers from around the world took a fresh look at fossil evidence from North American at the end of the Cretaceous Period, about 66 million years ago.

They found that owing to a variety of planet-wide phenomenon, dinosaurs were at a period of history when they were forced to compete even more with each other over resources.

Massive volcanic eruptions were causing huge fluctuations in temperatures and a decrease in ocean levels were already causing big disruptions for life on Earth when the giant asteroid hit.

Computer simulations suggested that changes in the climate and landscape reduced the number of different plant-eating dinosaurs in North America, which formed the base of the dinosaur food chain.

If the meteor had hit a few million years before, when there was a wider array of dino-herbivores, or a few million yers later, when the population might have recovered, the impact might not have killed all the large dinosaurs.

Fortunately for us, the dinosaur population was already stressed enough that when the big rock hit, they were unable to recover.

(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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