In a groundbreaking revelation that challenges long-held beliefs, a new scientific model suggests that a mega-volcano, not a meteor, may have been responsible for the extinction of dinosaurs.
This revolutionary theory, presented by researchers from Dartmouth University, sparked a fresh debate in the scientific community. For decades, the prevailing theory held that an enormous asteroid crashing into Earth led to the extinction of dinosaurs around 66 million years ago.
This belief was based on the discovery of a layer of iridium, an element abundant in space but rare on Earth, which coincided with the period when dinosaurs disappeared from the fossil record. Further evidence came from the massive Chicxulub Crater at the tip of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, dating back to the same era.
Machines weigh in: Don’t count out volcanoes as dino-killers after all?https://t.co/OK9wEFX2h6
— Science News (@ScienceNews) September 29, 2023
However, this new model, developed using real-world geological data, presents a different narrative.
The researchers designed a simulation that tested over 300,000 possible extinction scenarios. The results indicated climate change and toxic gases from the Deccan Traps’ prolonged emissions were the primary factors leading to the dinosaurs’ demise.
The Deccan Traps, a mega-volcano located in India, is estimated to have released as much as 10.4 trillion tons of carbon dioxide and 9.3 trillion tons of sulfur dioxide into Earth’s atmosphere during their nearly million years of eruptions.
These emissions, according to the model, were enough to cause the extinction of dinosaurs, even before the asteroid hit.
To ensure objectivity and reduce human bias, the researchers used a statistical process called ‘Bayesian Inversion’. This method allowed them to run the model backward in time, determining the most likely scenarios that led to the observed fossil records.
This innovative approach required significant computing power, with 128 computer processors running scenarios on a total of 512 cores in parallel.
Meteor, volcano, whatever. Just glad they’re not here now. “Can you keep your velociraptor out of my trash can?” https://t.co/vj6fjW4H3I
— Lillian Davis (@LiliCarterDavis) September 29, 2023
Despite the compelling findings, not all scientists are convinced. Some argue that the ratios of oxygen isotopes found in the foraminifera fossil shells can change due to seawater composition, not just climate.
Others point out the Chicxulub impact could have kicked up apocalyptic amounts of soot and dust, potentially shading Earth into a fatal winter.
The Dartmouth researchers, however, maintain that their model merely presents what the data suggests. They emphasize they are just the messenger delivering what their computer model has said. This study, while not definitive, opens up new avenues for research and discussion in the scientific community.
In conclusion, this groundbreaking study challenges the long-held belief about the cause of dinosaur extinction. While it may not provide a definitive answer, it certainly adds a new dimension to our understanding of Earth’s history.