Many theories have emerged along the years, and yet another finds its way out, that dinosaurs were wiped out by a combo of an asteroid and volcanoes, finding a middle ground between two popular hypothesis.
- The Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction (the KT extinction, or the End of the Dinosaurs) took place 66 million years ago
- It’s believed that eruptions started first, the asteroid came second to aggravate them, and caused devastation together for the next 50,000 years
- It took 500,000 years for life on Earth to recover, with 75% of all animal species believed to have disappeared
Researchers have long debated it, and there have been full on arguments on whether the dinosaurs have been led to extinction by a giant asteroid colliding with our planet, or increased volcanic activity. Both were likely, and a research team from the University of California, Berkeley, has found an answer between both.
They conducted extensive study on the Deccan Traps, a 124,000 square miles area in west-central India. It’s the home of the world’s largest volcanic formations. The team of geologists have retried around 700 rock samples, and performed new measurements on dating layers that are reportedly more accurate than ever before.
According to lead author of the study, professor Paul Renne, this new evidence uncovers that “the volcanism and the impact occurred within 50,000 years of each other” so it’s likely that both events worked together toward the extinction of dinosaurs. The KT extinction event, or The End of the Dinosaurs, took place an estimated 66 million years ago.
The researchers suggest that it was caused by a combination of volcanic eruptions and the impact of an asteroid. They have reached a conclusion that one just added more fuel to the fire already working toward their demise.
Massive amounts of lava were already flowing, but the new analysis has uncovered that it was slowly tapering off. Then, the impact came. The asteroid collision, otherwise known as the Chicxulub impact, created earthquakes of magnitude 11 near Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, and of magnitude 9 all across the rest of the world.
These powerful and devastating events worsened the volcanic eruptions, which doubled in output within the next thousands of years. The dating shows that while the lava began before the asteroid impact, it grew much worse after it, and the combination of both led to the KT extinction.
Disturbing amounts of ash and other pollutants rose into the air after the impact and the ash from eruptions, blocking out the much needed sunlight. Plants no longer grew, and climate change took place, among many other things to affect their health. An estimated 75% of all animal species are believed to have gone instinct within the next 500,000 years, before life began to bloom again.
The only species of dinosaurs that are thought to have survived were archosaurs, that have further evolved into today’s crocodiles and birds.
According to co-author of the study, professor Mark Richards, if the asteroid impact, volcanic eruptions and the extinction of dinosaurs keeping being dated as closer and closer together, the community will have to eventually accept “the likelihood of a connection among them”.
More data will always be needed, but there are chances that all these events could have happened at the same time.
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