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Published 2:00 PM ET, Thu October 24, 2019
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Researchers uncovered a fossil timeline of the first million years after the dinosaurs went extinct in Colorado's Corral Bluffs. As seen in these fossils, the mammals grew larger over time. These four mammal skulls represent Loxolophus, Carsioptychus, Taeniolabis and Eoconodon (left to right). HHMI Tangled Bank Studios
Tyler Lyson used a rock hammer to split open concretions found at the site. Concretions are egg-shaped rocks that form around an organic nucleus like bone. HHMI Tangled Bank Studios
This split concretion reveals the cross section of a vertebrate skull inside. HHMI Tangled Bank Studios
A collection of mammal skull fossils and lower jaws retrieved from Corral Bluffs. HHMI Tangled Bank Studios
This is a skull of Taeniolabis taoensis, which appeared approximately 700,000 years after the mass extinction event. It was an herbivore that came on the scene at the same time as the world's oldest legume plant fossil. HHMI Tangled Bank Studios
This is a CGI rendering of the ancient Taeniolabis mammal. The rendering was taken from the PBS NOVA special "Rise of the Mammals." HHMI Tangled Bank Studios
Corral Bluffs is located outside of Colorado Springs, Colorado. HHMI Tangled Bank Studios
Corral Bluffs contains 300 vertical feet of rock, including hard yellow sandstone and mudstones, which represent ancient rivers and floodplains, respectively. HHMI Tangled Bank Studios
Ian Miller (left) and Lyson found a wealth of fossils representing not just animals, but plants as well. HHMI Tangled Bank Studios
A fossilized fern found at the site. Ferns usually pop up in areas hit by disaster. HHMI Tangled Bank Studios
More than 6,000 leaves were collected. Plant fossils help tell the story of how the environment and forests bounced back over time. HHMI Tangled Bank Studios
About 200,000 years after the extinction event, mammals like Loxolophus could find food in forests dominated by palm trees. HHMI Tangled Bank Studios
Mammals grew and diversified as forests and vegetation expanded, like Carsioptychus, around 300,000 years ago. HHMI Tangled Bank Studios