NEW YORK, BRONX (ORDO News) — In a groundbreaking study, scientists from Dartmouth University have proposed a theory that challenges the widely accepted belief about the extinction of the dinosaurs.
According to their research, a colossal volcanic eruption, originating from India‘s ‘Deccan Traps’ mega-volcano, played a pivotal role in driving the dinosaurs to extinction, potentially overshadowing the impact of the infamous Chicxulub meteor strike that occurred over 66 million years ago.
This revelation emerged from a sophisticated simulation created by the Dartmouth researchers. Their model, designed to analyze over 300,000 possible extinction scenarios, utilized real-world geological data to provide fresh insights into the events leading up to the extinction of the dinosaurs.
Instead of relying on human intuition or preconceived notions, the researchers allowed their simulation to impartially assess the available data and draw its own conclusions.
The simulation aimed to explain the fossil records covering a span of one million years before and after the extinction of the dinosaurs. To achieve this, the researchers collected geological and climate data from deep-sea core samples dating from 67 to 65 million years ago.
These samples contained the microscopic remains of foraminifera, ancient ocean-dwelling creatures. By examining the carbon and oxygen isotopes within these tiny fossilized shells, the researchers gained valuable insights into prehistoric global temperatures during the dinosaur era.
The simulation, known as the ‘Long-term Ocean-atmosphere-Sediment Carbon cycle Reservoir’ (LOSCAR) model, played a crucial role in this study.
It meticulously traced the movement of carbon atoms over the course of one million years, both before and after the dinosaur extinction event. LOSCAR allowed the researchers to model the intricate ‘carbon cycle,’ which tracks the flow of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to carbon-based life forms, such as the foraminifera in the ocean, and eventually to the foraminifera fossils preserved in sediment layers.
To prevent bias and preconceived notions from influencing their findings, the researchers employed a unique approach. They ran the simulation in reverse, employing a statistical method called ‘Bayesian Inversion.’ This approach aimed to identify the scenarios most likely to have produced the observed fossil records, without any inherent biases. In essence, it was a quest to find the cause by analyzing the effect.
Running this sophisticated simulation required substantial computing power. The researchers harnessed 128 computer processors, running scenarios across 512 cores in parallel, to recreate the atmospheric conditions before and after the dinosaurs’ extinction.
This parallel processing significantly expedited the computational process, reducing what could have taken a year to just a few days. The processors worked collectively, cross-checking their results at the end of each simulation run, similar to students comparing their answers.
The results of this monumental effort were both startling and contentious. The simulations suggested that alarmingly high levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) and sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions were a direct result of India’s mega-volcanoes, specifically the ‘Deccan Traps.’
These eruptions released a staggering 10.4 trillion tons of CO2 and 9.3 trillion tons of SO2 into Earth‘s atmosphere during nearly one million years of volcanic activity. The researchers contend that these emissions contributed significantly to the climate change that eventually led to the demise of the dinosaurs.
However, not all experts in the field are fully convinced by this theory. Some researchers argue that changes in the ratios of oxygen isotopes within the foraminifera fossil shells could be attributed to seawater composition rather than climate alone.
Additionally, the impact of the Chicxulub meteor, which is estimated to have triggered widespread soot and dust, potentially plunging Earth into a catastrophic winter, is considered by many to be a significant factor in the dinosaur extinction event.
Despite the ongoing debate and skepticism from some quarters, the Dartmouth researchers emphasize that their role is merely to present the findings of their computer model. Their study, published in the journal Science, underscores the importance of allowing data-driven simulations to guide scientific inquiry, irrespective of prior beliefs or conventional wisdom.
As Alex Cox, a Dartmouth graduate student and co-author of the study, aptly puts it, “In the end, it doesn’t matter what we think or what we previously thought. The model shows us how we got to what we see in the geological record.” This study serves as a remarkable example of how computational models can reshape our understanding of Earth’s ancient history and the events that shaped life on our planet.
Unraveling the mysteries of 66 million years ago
Approximately 66 million years ago, our planet was home to awe-inspiring giants that roamed the Earth with dominion – the dinosaurs. Yet, this reign came to an abrupt and mysterious end, marking a defining moment in Earth’s history known as the Cretaceous-Tertiary (K-T) extinction event.
The circumstances surrounding the demise of these colossal reptiles have long captivated scientists and paleontologists, leading to various theories that seek to unravel the enigma of their extinction.
For many years, the prevailing hypothesis suggested that the shifting climate played a pivotal role in the extinction of dinosaurs.
The theory posited that alterations in temperature and environmental conditions disrupted the food chain of these massive creatures. While this notion held sway for some time, a groundbreaking discovery in the 1980s challenged this paradigm.
Paleontologists unearthed a tantalizing clue in the form of a thin layer of iridium, an element rare on Earth but abundant in space. This iridium layer was precisely dated and intriguingly corresponded with the abrupt disappearance of dinosaurs from the fossil record. It was a perplexing piece of evidence that demanded closer scrutiny.
A decade later, another remarkable revelation entered the equation – the discovery of the colossal Chicxulub Crater, nestled at the tip of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, which also aligned with the same period.
Scientific consensus began to coalesce around a radical idea: an enormous asteroid impact. The prevailing theory now suggests that these two interconnected factors, the iridium layer and the Chicxulub Crater, were products of a cataclysmic collision between Earth and a colossal asteroid.
Such an event would have unleashed devastation of unprecedented proportions. The impact would have generated a colossal shockwave, setting off seismic upheaval that reverberated across the planet.
The aftermath of this cataclysmic collision would have been equally catastrophic. Enormous plumes of ash and debris would have engulfed the atmosphere, shrouding the Earth in darkness for an extended period. The sun’s life-giving rays would have been obstructed, plunging the planet into a period of cold and darkness, rendering the survival of dinosaurs nearly impossible.
Yet, while dinosaurs succumbed to this catastrophic event, other species fared differently. Some animals and plant species exhibited shorter generational spans, allowing them to adapt and survive the post-apocalyptic conditions. This evolutionary advantage played a critical role in the survival and emergence of new life forms in the wake of this monumental catastrophe.
However, the mystery of dinosaur extinction remains a complex puzzle with several theories vying for attention. Early speculations proposed that small mammals may have devoured dinosaur eggs, contributing to their decline. Another intriguing theory suggests that toxic angiosperms, or flowering plants, may have played a role in their demise.
While the asteroid impact theory holds sway as the leading explanation for the extinction event, these alternative theories continue to intrigue and inspire further research. The enigma of dinosaur extinction is a testament to the enduring mysteries of Earth’s history, inviting scientists to delve deeper into the annals of time to uncover the full story of these remarkable creatures and the cataclysm that forever altered the course of life on our planet.
News agencies contributed to this report, edited and published by ORDO News editors.
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