If only the dinosaurs had Harry Stamper and company. It turns out the asteroid that killed off the dinosaurs came at the most inopportune time for the dinosaurs.
Debate has raged in the scientific community about what really killed off the dinosaurs. Was it the large asteroid, volcanoes or a general species decline. A new journal article is out in the Biological Reviews and researchers conclude that the asteroid that created the Yucatan’s Chicxulub crater was the leading culprit behind the demise of the dinosaurs.
It was also a matter of timing for the species. I’m not sure there is ever a ‘good’ time to get hit by an asteroid, but the dinosaurs managed to get hit at the worst possible time. There was a large subset of big plant eaters, making the species a big target for extinction with the impact.
Stephen Brusatte, a member of the panel that looked into the event talked about the timing. “If the asteroid hit five million years later or earlier, the dinosaurs might still be around. An impact would have been horrible for them, but they had survived dips and dives for more than 150 million years.”
I’m not sure humans would have made it getting chased down by a T-Rex, and thankfully we don’t have that alternate history to live through. The asteroid that struck in the Yucatan was about six miles wide. It left a crater 110 to 180 miles wide and 12 miles deep.
The new consensus behind the asteroid impact puts to rest other theories about the doomsday for dinosaurs. New fossil evidence shows that the species was not dwindling away on its own, and that the asteroid was the extinction-level event.
Bad Times For Dinosaurs
In and around the time of the asteroid impact, there was also quite a few large volcanic eruptions. The T-Rex couldn’t seem to catch a break, with some scientists putting the number of eruptions between 30 and 100. Princeton Geophysicist Gerta Keller disagrees with the new report today, saying that each of the volcano eruptions would have the same climate impact as the one asteroid impact.
The number of volcanic eruptions preceding the impact came from an area known as the ‘Deccan Traps’ in central India.
Regardless if the volcanoes helped soften up the dinosaurs, and the asteroid was the final blow, it was not a good time for any animal living on Earth.