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Why Dinosaurs Are Extinct

Why Dinosaurs Are Extinct

Last week news reports from NASA stated that the earthquake in Chile had shifted the Earth’s axis by about three inches and thus shortened the length of the day. Nobody seems to be that concerned about losing 1.26 millionths of a second each day, but the domino effect of major natural events is nonetheless intriguing. I kept thinking about this as I read a recent report about the extinction of the dinosaurs (and as I think about species going extinct during our watch). Was it one small event that caused a chain reaction resulting in their demise, or something more catastrophic?

For decades experts have been split about the explanation, but on Thursday a panel of 41 scientists from around the world reviewed two decades worth of research in an attempt to confirm the cause. The new study, published in the journal Science, determined that a 9-mile wide asteroid crashed into Earth at Chicxulub (in what is now Mexico), traveling 45,000 mph and creating “one of the biggest holes the Earth has ever seen,” says study co-author Kirk Johnson of the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. The result? a series of events that ultimately proved fatal for over half the species of the planet.

“We now have great confidence that an asteroid was the cause of the KT [Cretaceous-Tertiary] extinction. This triggered large-scale fires, earthquakes measuring more than 10 on the Richter scale, and continental landslides, which created tsunamis,” said Joanna Morgan of Imperial College London, a co-author of the review.

Morgan said the “final nail in the coffin for the dinosaurs” came when blasted material flew into the atmosphere, shrouding the planet in darkness, causing a global winter and “killing off many species that couldn’t adapt to this hellish environment.”

Gareth Collins, another co-author from Imperial College, said the asteroid impact created a catastrophe that signaled the end of the 160-million-year reign of the dinosaurs. But on the bright side, it also turned out to be a great day for mammals. “The KT extinction was a pivotal moment in Earth’s history, which ultimately paved the way for humans to become the dominant species on Earth,” he wrote in a commentary on the study.

Yet in the meantime, many modern day species have become threatened, endangered, and extinct because of habitat loss, poaching, and climate change-related threats. Sometimes, it doesn’t take a 9-mile wide asteroid…

See the effects of the asteroid impact here.

Read more: Nature, Nature & Wildlife, News & Issues, Pets, , ,

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Melissa Breyer

Melissa Breyer is a writer and editor with a background in sustainable living, specializing in food, science and design. She is the co-author of True Food (National Geographic) and has edited and written for regional and international books and periodicals, including The New York Times Magazine. Melissa lives in Brooklyn, NY.

132 comments

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12:52PM PST on Jan 20, 2011

We just need another one to wipe out humans !!

11:36AM PDT on Jul 9, 2010

The reason why dinosaurs are extinct is
very simple.
Lower sperm count wiped them out from our planet.
It is not a joke but a fact that need to be investigated.

10:56PM PDT on Jun 5, 2010

Jonathon B - I can picture it. LOL. No, I would not like to live with dinosaurs. They were right for their time and a few of the earlier reptiles survive as snakes and crocodiles. I don't know what will happen to Man as he changes his environment rather than changing to fit in.

7:44AM PDT on Apr 26, 2010

Nice article. Thank you for the information Melissa!!!!

5:20PM PDT on Apr 3, 2010

well i guess that that could be the possible answer that must have been some earthquake if it did all that to the dinosaurs.

7:52AM PDT on Apr 2, 2010

interesting....

6:11AM PDT on Apr 2, 2010

Interesting article. Sorry to say it, but I am glad that the dinosaurs do not exist any longer. Humans and dinos would not survive together well.

6:41PM PDT on Mar 21, 2010

I mean humans and dinosaurs could not co-exist. They just wouldn't get along. It's about a asteroid that formed and that wiped out these dinos...

6:40PM PDT on Mar 21, 2010

IF they were still alive they would kill and eat humans. Humans and dinosaurs could not exist like in the Flintstones show.

4:40PM PDT on Mar 20, 2010

KT event destroys all dinosaur life on the planet.

Dinosaur carrying placard reading
"The End Is Nigh" is quoted as saying,
"I told you so!"

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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