Prolonged volcanic activity killed the dinosaurs not an asteroid

29 March 2024

Well, this is interesting. All these years I’ve thought the demise of the dinosaurs was occasioned by the impact of an asteroid that struck Earth sixty-six million years ago. That may be still the case, but some scientists believe relentless volcanic activity, spanning more than a million years before and after the strike, may have been the real culprit.

At first, the Deccan Traps, an enormous shield volcano located in what is present day India, began releasing small quantities of carbon dioxide and sulphur into Earth’s atmosphere. As time went on these emissions increased, until, about three hundred thousand years before the asteroid strike, furious volcanic eruptions commenced. After several hundred thousand years of the atmosphere being filled with toxic gases, Earth must have been all but uninhabitable anyway.

In short, the asteroid is blamed for the mass extinctions that marked the end of the Cretaceous era, simply because it arrived at the time it did. All of this is the subject matter of the latest Kurzgesagt video, and even if that’s not happened, there’s much to marvel over. One being the reign of the dinosaurs lasted one hundred and fifty million years.

Humanity, or at least Homo sapiens, have been present, perhaps a mere three hundred thousand years so far. And then there’s Earth itself. Towards the end of the Cretaceous era, the planet was far warmer, and humid, than presently. Forests flourished in polar regions, and despite the long polar nights, life went on in what have seemed like a short sleeve like environment. Fascinating.


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