Scientists have been debating what caused the Earth to become uninhabitable for dinosaurs millions of years ago. A team believes that 66 million years ago, a huge asteroid hit the Earth off the coast of Mexico, leading to the extinction of all dinosaur species except birds. However, some researchers believe that large volcanic eruptions may have been the real cause of the extinction events that killed 75 percent of life on Earth.
Researchers from UCL, Imperial College London and the University of Bristol have completed a new study showing that only an asteroid impact could create adverse conditions for dinosaurs on a global scale. According to the study, large-scale volcanic activity could help life recover from an asteroid impact in the long term due to the potential of global warming.
The team’s research shows that asteroids caused decades of impact winters, and environmental impacts damaged the environment suitable for dinosaurs. The effects of intense volcanic eruptions are not strong enough to significantly damage global ecosystems. The researchers say their study is the first to show that the only plausible explanation for extinction is the drop in temperature caused by the impact, which wiped out the dinosaur’s habitat worldwide.
Asteroid impacts release particles and gas into the air, blocking the sun for years, creating a permanent winter. However, volcanic eruptions can also produce particles and gases that block the sun. In the new paper, the team combines traditional climate geological markers with mathematical models. This combination gives information on the types of environmental factors such as rainfall and temperature needed to survive in dinosaurs. They then mapped out where these conditions would exist in the post-asteroid impact or large-scale volcanic event situated, and found that only asteroid impacts wiped out all potential dinosaur habitats, while volcanic eruptions left some areas around the equator that allowed dinosaurs to survive.