Abundant fossil bones, teeth, trackways, and other hard evidence have revealed that Earth was the domain of the dinosaurs for at least 230 million years. But so far, not a single trace of dinosaur remains has been found in rocks younger than about 66 million years. At that point, as the Cretaceous period yielded to the Paleogene, it seems that all nonavian dinosaurs suddenly ceased to exist.
Along with them went fearsome marine reptiles such as the mosasaurs, ichthyosaurs, and plesiosaurs, as well as all the flying reptiles known as pterosaurs. Ancient forests seem to have flamed out across much of the planet. And while some mammals, birds, small reptiles, fish, and amphibians survived, diversity among the remaining life-forms dropped precipitously. In total, this mass extinction event claimed three quarters of life on Earth.