Scientists Finally Stop Fighting About Dinosaur Deaths

Study says asteroid and volcanos killed the dinosaurs
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 2, 2015 6:22 PM CDT

(Newser) – After 35 years of intense scholarly debate—and probably some name calling—scientists have agreed to compromise: Both a giant asteroid and massive volcanic eruptions were responsible for killing off the dinosaurs 66 million years ago. Time reports this agreement comes after researchers used a new technique to more precisely date 700 rock samples from India's Deccan Traps. They discovered a series of volcanic eruptions there—the largest on Earth in 60 million years—happened within 50,000 years of an asteroid the size of Manhattan slamming into Mexico, according to Reuters. Those two events would have combined to fill the atmosphere with dust, ash, and fumes, causing the climate change that killed 75% of all species on Earth.

Fifty-thousand years apart may sound like it's pushing the boundary of claiming two things happened at the same time, but that's not the case with geologic time. "Within measurement error, they're simultaneous," volcanologist Loÿc Vanderkluysen tells Reuters. The Deccan Traps were already erupting before the asteroid hit, but the impact of the space rock appears to have intensified them. In the 420,000 years following impact, the Traps created enough lava to cover the United States in a 600-foot-deep layer, according to Time. "In their wake would have come 4,000 centuries of changing climate, ocean acidification, and acid rains," Vanderkluysen tells Reuters. But one geophysicist says don't feel too bad for the dinosaurs; if they hadn't died out, we wouldn't be here (and motorcycle-riding Chris Pratt leading a pack of raptors would just be a boring documentary).

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