The discovery that birds are a type of dinosaur showed that dinosaurs in general are not, in fact, extinct as is commonly stated.[153] However, all non-avian dinosaurs as well as many groups of birds did suddenly become extinct approximately 66 million years ago. It has been suggested that because small mammals, squamata and birds occupied the ecological niches suited for small body size, non-avian dinosaurs never evolved a diverse fauna of small-bodied species, which lead to their downfall when large bodied terrestrial tetrapods were hit by the mass extinction event.[154] Many other groups of animals also became extinct at this time, including ammonites (nautilus-like mollusks), mosasaurs, plesiosaurs, pterosaurs, and many groups of mammals.[8] Significantly, the insects suffered no discernible population loss, which left them available as food for other survivors. This mass extinction is known as the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event. The nature of the event that caused this mass extinction has been extensively studied since the 1970s; at present, several related theories are supported by paleontologists. Though the consensus is that an impact event was the primary cause of dinosaur extinction, some scientists cite other possible causes, or support the idea that a confluence of several factors was responsible for the sudden disappearance of dinosaurs from the fossil record.[155][156][157]
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