An global team of scientists has concluded the asteroid that smashed into Earth 66 million years ago not only wiped out the dinosaurs, but erased the world's forests and species that lived in trees.
The researchers have also said that the survival of some of the bird species may also involve other factors and the death of forests would be just one among them.
An global team of researchers from the U.S., England, and Sweden pieced together evidence from the plant fossil record and ecology of ancient and modern birds, in order to conduct the study.
"The recovery of canopy-forming trees such as palms and pines happened much later, which coincides with the evolution and explosion of diversity of tree-dwelling birds", Dr Bercovici said.
Ground-dwelling bird ancestors managed to survive, eventually taking to the trees when the flora recovered.
"The temporary elimination of forests in the aftermath of the asteroid impact explains why arboreal birds failed to survive across this extinction event", said lead author Daniel Field, from the Milner Centre for Evolution at the University of Bath, UK.
"Only a handful of ancestral bird lineages succeeded in surviving the mass extinction event 66 million years ago, and all of today's awesome living bird diversity can be traced to these ancient survivors", he said.
With no more perches, the perching birds went extinct.
If it hadn't struck our planet all those centuries ago, maybe we would have gotten to live out our Flintstones fantasies and would be flying giant birds instead of riding in killer automated cars.
She also notes that while the dinosaurs and their perching bird neighbors died 66 million years ago, their plight is relevant today.
This is a contentious scientific field, and the new paper quickly generated pushback from Gerta Keller, a Princeton geologist who has long argued that the end-Cretaceous mass extinction was triggered by volcanism in India - a huge flood of basaltic lava that created a vast geological formation known as the Deccan Traps.
"Today, birds are the most diverse and globally widespread group of terrestrial vertebrate animals - there are almost 11,000 living species", Field said in a statement.
"The spores are tiny - you could fit four across a single strand of your hair", Regan Dunn, study co-author and paleontologist at the Field Museum in Chicago, said in a statement.
A scientist at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science is part of a team which has discovered what an ancient asteroid impact means for modern day birds. Ferns are normally amongst the quickest plants to return after natural catastrophes. It took about 1,000 years for the forests to regenerate.
Studying entire paleoecosystems demonstrates how life in the world has actually developed through all the trials and adversities of the past, Dunn stated in an e-mail.
" Human activity is triggering logging on an enormous scale", Field stated. Jingmai O'Connor, a paleontologist at the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology in China said, "Forest loss was only one of several factors working in combination that determined which bird lineages survived".
Dunn included that "By studying this occasion, we find out about exactly what took place to biodiversity in the past following damage of Earth's environments and for how long it considered biodiversity to recuperate".