We joke that the great beasts that were dinosaurs were brought down by an asteroid strike. Until the discovery of the sight, this was mostly speculation. The BBC first reported that scientists have now found a beautifully preserved leg of a dinosaur, complete with skin. How does that impact us?

Where was the fossil found?

The fossil was found at the Tanis fossil site in North Dakota. Tanis is on a river that might have drained into the shallow sea which now covers much of what is now the East and South of the United States. It was discovered in 2008, by University of North Georgia Professor Steve Nicklas and field paleontologist Rob Sula. The sight has been the subject of much discussion and controversy since research started on it.

However, the 12 km wide asteroid would have struck the earth near the Yucutan peninsula. That is some 3,000 km away from Tanis. But it shows that consequences from the asteroid were felt far and wide across the planet. It killed off all dinosaurs and life at the time.

What does it mean?

We had no concrete proof that dinosaurs were actually killed by an asteroid. The team at the dig sight has argued that the way the leg is positioned in the rock proves it was ripped off suddenly. Prof Paul Barrett from London’s Natural History Museum argued that ‘this is an animal that died more or less instantaneously.’

Furthermore, there are fish remains, including that of a freshwater sturgeon, that choked to death on particles raining out of the sky.

There is no doubt that some scientists still have quite a lot of scepticism.

Palaeontologists who have worked at the site argue that this proves there was a cataclysmic event that ended the Cretaceous period.

The evidence that the leg fossil provides is that there was most likely an asteroid strike 66 million years ago. It ended all life at the time. Many of the other discoveries made at the Tanis sight emphasise that argument. This leg, however, is the first concrete proof of the asteroid.

With this new found evidence, what other mysteries of the earth can we solve?

Why did the BBC report this first?

The reason why the BBC were the first ones to cover this story is because they have been at the sight covering the discoveries. Furthermore, David Attenborough and the BBC will be airing a documentary entitled ‘Dinosaurs: The Final Day.’

This documentary will show the public some of the fossils found at Tanis for the first time. It will also reveal many of the discoveries made over the last three years. It will be broadcast on BBC One on 15 April at 18:30 BST.