Dinosaurs, who ruled the planet for about 170 million years and were one of the most successful animals of all time, may have been in a 10 million year decline at the time of their apocalypse, according to a study published this week.

A study in the journal Nature Communications claims that extinction rates increased 76 million years ago and the development of new species declined before the coup de grace of Chicxulub struck about 66 million years ago. The reason, scientists suspect, was a changing climate – cold temperatures caused a cascade of collapse and misfortune. The paper is the latest entry in a longstanding debate about why the dinosaurs became extinct, and not all paleontologists agree that a steady decline was underway when the space rock hit.

The research serves as a backdrop to consider this week’s heatwave in the Pacific Northwest and the uncertainty of the time of every animal on Earth. Including how quickly a more adaptable living being could take over.

The dinosaurs were the mammals. “The dinosaurs were usually so huge that they probably hardly knew that the furry little mammals were in the undergrowth. But mammals began to increase in numbers before the dinosaurs disappeared, and after the impact they had the chance to create new types of ecosystems that we see today, ”said Fabien Condamine, lead author of the study and research scientist at the Institut des Sciences de l ‘Evolution de Montpellier in France.

I ask myself: which animals could take over if we humans cannot adapt? Are you currently unnoticed under your feet?

Other scientists this week discovered a previously unknown species of beetle in the coprolites or fossilized feces of dinosaur ancestors who lived more than 200 million years ago. Perhaps 200 million years from now, super-evolved beetles will have their time examining our coprolites for evidence of our existence as the cycle of life goes on.