What killed the dinosaurs? New research suggests volcanoes NOT killer asteroid responsible

Millions of years before mankind walked the Earth, dinosaurs ruled the world. It was commonly assumed that dinosaurs’ demise was triggered by a massive asteroid that slammed in the Earth 66 million years ago. But a pair of landmark new studies have shown a huge volcanic eruption contributed to the giant prehistoric reptiles’ extinction.

Volcanic eruptions spewing climate-changing gases into Earth’s atmosphere destroyed the dinosaurs long before the killer asteroid arrived.

This is according to groundbreaking new research unraveling the mystery of how dinosaurs were wiped-off from the face of the Earth, after walking the Earth for millions of years.

The mass extinction asteroid event is possibly the most famous of the five mass extinctions that have struck the planet, but the exact circumstances surrounding it have until now remain mysterious.

While the discovery of the Chicxulub crater in the Caribbean appeared to confirm an impact by an enormous asteroid sealed the dinosaurs’ fate, the solidified lava field of India’s Deccan Flats alters that narrative.

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Measuring more than 2 kilometres thick in some places, these rocky stretches in India are evidence of massive volcanic activity that took place around the same time.

Crucial to calculating whether volcanoes or asteroids were responsible for the mass extinction is determining a precise time for the eruptions in relation to the impact.

By using uranium and lead within minerals from the solidified magma, scientists identified four enormous volcanic events that began tens of thousands of years before the asteroid struck.

Each lasting around 100,000 years, these explosions would have spewed incredible quantities of climate-altering greenhouse gases, likely leading to the first wave of mass extinctions.

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During this period, temperatures increased by around eight Celsius as these gases entered the atmosphere.

These new results were released alongside another contemporaneous study, which arrived at a slightly different conclusion.

Their dating of basalt rocks of the Deccan Flats appeared to show most of the eruptions took place after the asteroid’s arrival – perhaps triggered by super-earthquakes following the impact.

However, Dr Courtney Sprain, a geoscientist at the University of Liverpool who led the second study, said this did not mean the volcanoes played no role in the extinctions.

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“Either the Deccan eruptions did not play a role – which we think unlikely – or a lot of climate-modifying gases were erupted during the lowest volume pulse of the eruptions,” she explained.

The team suggested that instead of the gases blasting out as the volcanoes exploded, they leaked out gradually in the years building up to the eruptions.

While a definitive answer to the question of what killed the dinosaurs so far remains elusive, Dr Sprain and her colleagues argue it was likely the result of a “one-two punch” from both volcanoes and asteroid.

Rapid warming of the Earth’s climate may have left remaining creatures adapting to life in hot conditions, only to be faced with rapid cooling after dust from the asteroid impact blotted out the sun.

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