Dinosaurs have been the largest reptile-related animals on our planet so far. They are considered a type of warm-blooded prehistoric reptiles, related to current reptiles and even birds, but very different. They lived for approximately 160 million years, in the Mesozoic era, which is divided into three periods: Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous. A long time ago they disappeared from the face of the Earth, but what happened so that these great animals ceased to exist? This is a question that, really, we still ask ourselves, since there are several scientific theories about it.
If you want to know why dinosaurs became extinct, keep reading this Green Ecologist article in which we present the different theories in detail and more curiosities about it.
When and how did the dinosaurs become extinct? It is one of the most frequently asked questions that still revolve around these animals of the past. Although science has already established a dating and a reason for this situation, nowadays thanks to the advancement of science, more details and results of studies on it appear and more theories have been presented and, even, a possible change of date in some cases.
The date of the extinction of the dinosaurs is considered to be ago about 65 million years. But, what is the theory of the extinction of dinosaurs more accepted by the scientific community? For several decades, it was established that the most probable thing is that the impact of a meteorite or asteroid on Earth made these giants that dominated the planet for so long disappear. However, as we have mentioned, there are more possible causes of this and, today, these are the most probable theories:
Next, we explain each of these possible theories of the disappearance of the dinosaurs.
Between the late 1970s and early 1980s, the theory of 12 km diameter meteorite or asteroid that impacted the Earth, specifically in the area of the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico, as the cause of the extinction of the dinosaurs.
A geological layer or stratum rich in iridium was discovered, occupying the entire planet and dating from the time of the great extinction. This chemical element is not commonly found on the surface of the Earth, but it is found in the magma within it, as well as in this ancient layer at great depth and in meteorites. As this element is very toxic and radioactive, the scientists considered that when impacting a large meteorite or asteroid, rich in this element and by raising large amounts of it from the inner layers of the planet, this material expanded throughout the Earth, killing many living beings and extinguishing a large part of the dinosaurs, but it was not the only cause Instead, there was a chain reaction.
The great Chicxulub crater, in the Yucatan Peninsula, and its age has also been dated to about 65 million years ago and, therefore, it is believed to be the point at which the large asteroid collided, expanding the layer of iridium found and eventually causing this great catastrophe.
A) Yes, the mass extinction of the dinosaurs it was caused by the meteorite that hit Mexico. However, it was not the impact itself that killed so many beings, but it produced chain reactions to the point of extinguishing most of the life on the planet. The Dinosaur death reactions were, in this order, the following:
Another of the theories that most support the scientific studies carried out to date is that the volcanoes wiped out the dinosaurs. Evidence has been found that on the date of this extinction there was a great volcanic activity, which went on for a long time without interruption, especially in the Indian part. In fact, these eruptions covered more than 2.6 million square kilometers of lava in India.
Such a catastrophe is considered to have killed all the animals in this part of the Earth. Furthermore, as the magma inside the planet and, consequently, lava from volcanoes is rich in iridium, adding the ashes and toxic gases expelled during the constant eruptions, all together, could cause the dinosaurs disappear. The difficulty for sunlight to reach the Earth's surface, the increase in greenhouse gases and the toxicity of the air itself, from which oxygen was reduced, were a perfect mix to prevent many species from surviving this era. .
Learn more about the Types of volcanic eruptions with this other post.
Finally, the last theory accepted by the scientific community about why the dinosaurs disappeared is that of the climate change in the Cretaceous. There is various paleontological evidence, both in geological strata and in animal and plant fossils, that in this last part of the age of the dinosaurs there was a chain of cataclysms, such as earthquakes, tidal waves and a marked drop in temperature that caused extreme weather changes.
In addition, the level of the planet's waters dropped significantly due to the significant drop in temperatures. Another aspect of an important change in the environment of that time, to which these large animals could not adapt in time.
This is a topic that many little ones want to know about, because as soon as they begin to discover these animals of the past they are usually fascinated by everything around them and this particular aspect can be somewhat complex to explain.
If ever a child asks you Why did dinosaurs disappear You will have to explain the above, but in a really simple way and encourage him to read about it and continue learning. Thus, in summary and in a simple way, the extinction of dinosaurs for kids It can be explained as follows.
According to paleontologists, who are the scientists who study and interpret the past of life on Earth thanks to the fossils they unearth, there are three possible ways that dinosaurs could disappear:
One of the most important survivors was the Mesodma, a genus of mammals now extinct. Specifically, they appeared in the Cretaceous and became extinct in the Paleocene. They were about mammals the size of mice and of which there is scientific evidence that they survived the great extinction.
Mammals appeared almost at the same time as dinosaurs and lived with them throughout the period known as "the age of dinosaurs." It was thanks to the extinction of the latter and the survival of these small mammals and others like it, that mammals evolved, they diversified and expanded to become large animals.
Thanks to all this, we are here today as a dominant species. If the meteorite had not produced such reactions, that is, if it had not fallen right in this area, it is very likely that many dinosaurs would have survived and mammals could not have evolved in such a way.
Finally, if you want to discover much more about dinosaurs, we recommend you read these interesting articles by Green Ecologist:
If you want to read more articles similar to Why the dinosaurs became extinct, we recommend that you enter our category of Extinct Animals.Bibliography