The extinction of the dinosaurs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


  • Stephen L. Brusatte
  • Paul M. Barrett
  • Matthew T. Carrano
  • David C. Evans
  • Graeme T. Lloyd
  • Philip D. Mannion
  • Mark A. Norell
  • Daniel J. Peppe
  • Paul Upchurch
  • Thomas E. Williamson

Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • University College London
  • University of Edinburgh
  • Smithsonian Institution
  • Royal Ontario Museum
  • University of Oxford
  • Imperial College London
  • American Museum of Natural History
  • Baylor University
  • New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science
  • Department of Earth Sciences, Natural History Museum


Non-avian dinosaurs went extinct 66 million years ago, geologically coincident with the impact of a large bolide (comet or asteroid) during an interval of massive volcanic eruptions and changes in temperature and sea level. There has long been fervent debate about how these events affected dinosaurs. We review a wealth of new data accumulated over the past two decades, provide updated and novel analyses of long-term dinosaur diversity trends during the latest Cretaceous, and discuss an emerging consensus on the extinction's tempo and causes. Little support exists for a global, long-term decline across non-avian dinosaur diversity prior to their extinction at the end of the Cretaceous. However, restructuring of latest Cretaceous dinosaur faunas in North America led to reduced diversity of large-bodied herbivores, perhaps making communities more susceptible to cascading extinctions. The abruptness of the dinosaur extinction suggests a key role for the bolide impact, although the coarseness of the fossil record makes testing the effects of Deccan volcanism difficult.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)628-642
Number of pages15
JournalBiological Reviews
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2015


  • Chicxulub impact, Cretaceous-Paleogene, Deccan Traps, Dinosaurs, End-Cretaceous, Extinctions, Global change, Macroevolution, Mass extinction, Palaeontology