The term Paleocene dinosaurs describe families or genera of non-avian dinosaurs that may have survived the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event 66 million years ago. Although almost all evidence indicates that dinosaurs (other than birds) all went extinct at the K-Pg boundary, there is some scattered evidence that these non-avian dinosaurs lived for a short period of time during the Paleocene epoch. The evidence for Paleocene dinosaurs is rare and remains controversial.
Several researchers have stated that some dinosaurs survived into the Paleocene and therefore the extinction of dinosaurs was gradual. Their arguments were based on the finding of dinosaur remains in the Hell Creek Formation up to 1.3 m (4.3 ft) above (40,000 years later than) the K-Pg boundary. Similar reports have come from other parts of the world, including China.
There is possible evidence of a Dead Clade Walking: in 2001, evidence was presented that pollen samples recovered near a fossilized hadrosaur femur recovered in the Ojo Alamo Sandstone at the San Juan River indicate that the animal lived during the Paleogene Period, approximately 64.5 million years ago. Direct dating of bone has also been used to present an age of 64.8 ± 0.9 million years for one specimen. Many scientists, however, dismiss the "Paleocene dinosaurs" as re-worked, that is, washed out of their original locations and then re-buried in much later sediments. A compelling argument against re-working would be a complete or at least associated skeleton (e.g. more than one bone from the same individual) found above the K-Pg boundary. As yet no such finds have been reported.
- Sloan, R. E., Rigby, K,. Van Valen, L. M., Gabriel, Diane (1986). "Gradual dinosaur extinction and simultaneous ungulate radiation in the Hell Creek formation". Science 232 (4750): 629–633. Bibcode:1986Sci...232..629S. doi:10.1126/science.232.4750.629. PMID 17781415. Retrieved 2007-05-18.
- Fassett, JE, Lucas, SG, Zielinski, RA, and Budahn, JR (2001). "Compelling new evidence for Paleocene dinosaurs in the Ojo Alamo Sandstone, San Juan Basin, New Mexico and Colorado, USA". Catastrophic events and mass extinctions, Lunar and Planetary Contribution 1053: 45–46. Retrieved 2007-05-18.
- Fassett, JE, Heaman, LM, and Simonetti, A (2010). "Direct U-Pb dating of Cretaceous and Paleocene dinosaur bones, San Juan Basin, New Mexico". Geology 39 (2): 159–162. doi:10.1130/G31466.1.
- Sullivan, RM (2003). "No Paleocene dinosaurs in the San Juan Basin, New Mexico". Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs 35 (5): 15. Retrieved 2007-07-02.
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