About 65 million years ago, a sudden change in the earth’s atmosphere, probably caused by a meteorite, wiped out the dinosaurs, plesiosaurs and pterosaurs. Reptiles such as crocodiles and snakes survived, as did some birds and mammals, giving rise to all the animals that exist today, including humans.
Fossils are the traces and remains of ancient animals preserved in rock. They can be bones or teeth that over millions of years have been replaced with rock, or the footprints of animals made in what was then mud or clay.
People who look for and study the fossils of ancient creatures are called palaeontologists.
Very special circumstances are needed to create fossils, which is why they are so rare. In Australia, dinosaurs are known from only a few fossil sites including Dinosaur Cove in Victoria, Winton in Queensland and Broome in Western Australia.
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