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Global Warming May Have Killed the Dinosaurs 269

Posted by Zonk
from the circle-of-life dept.
The Fun Guy sent in a link to the American Society for Microbiology site, your leading news source for everything between nano and macro. The site is featuring a story about new research into the KT barrier extinction: the period in history where the dinosaurs went extinct, along with a number of other families of species. For a number of years scientists have theorized that an impact on the Yucatan peninsula was responsible for the species crash, but microbiological examination of marine organisms of the time indicate life persisted for another 300,000 years after the 'Chicxulub impact'. The researchers at Princeton who made this discovery theorize that global warming caused by a volcanic eruption in India is a more likely culprit for the world-wide devastation. The article generalizes that there is no 'smoking gun' for this event, and further research is required.
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Global Warming May Have Killed the Dinosaurs

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  • Irony Alert (Score:5, Funny)

    by suckmysav (763172) <suckmysavNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday January 26, 2007 @10:54PM (#17780340) Journal
    Ironically, the dinosaurs are playing a leading role in our own Global Warming Saga.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by MarkRose (820682)
      Just like your average America, a dinosaur doesn't fit in a compact car. Can you blame them for driving SUVs?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by WED Fan (911325)

      Ironically, the dinosaurs are playing a leading role in our own Global Warming Saga.

      Or, not. I think the dead, liquid dinosaurs are the scapegoats. I think people are afraid to admit that its that pesky Sun, on a warming cycle, and volcanic action, there's been a lot, and just plain cycles.

      People are afraid to admit it because then it is out of our control, and one thing people really like is to be in control.

    • Makes you wonder what (if intelligent is here) creatures 50,000,000 years from now will gain from our existence. Perhaps lots of iron ore from landfills, and most likely a shit load of gold from fort knox.... maybe they will think that is where we buried our pharaohs ;P
    • Let's address this logically:

      1) It took several super volcanos going off at the same time and spewing millions upon millions of tons of contaminants into the air to cause the planet to cool. One volcanic eruption occured in Minnesota and dumped nearly 20 feet of ash in locations several hundred miles away. Keep in mind that this our planet, doing what it does and sending us all into a series of ice ages.
      2) Given the recovery capacity of the planet, what makes you think your puny a$$ vespa or even my bro
      • by cyber-vandal (148830) on Saturday January 27, 2007 @05:53AM (#17782228) Homepage
        Seriously, there's no money in everything being fine.

        People who make money from oil, the Chinese, the Indians, and everyone else who wouldn't have to do any cleaning up would probably disagree with that statement.

        There is bugger all money in anthropomorphic climate change. There is instead a big cost in changing things if it turns out to be true and therefore a big financial incentive to deny it at all costs.

        That means you have to have millions and billions of cars to get any kind of a quantity.

        Not to mention all the other vehicles including planes, trains, trucks etc and all factories pumping out waste. In any case there might well be a billion cars on the roads of the world now; if not it probably isn't that far off.

        Given the recovery capacity of the planet, what makes you think your puny a$$ vespa or even my brontosaur vehicle can spew enough crap to cause climatic change?

        What does the recovery capacity of the planet have to do with whether the human race gets wiped out or not?
      • One of the volcanoes that had a sizable impact:

        Lake Toba was estimated to wipe out 60% of all human life on Earth.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Super_volcano#Known_e ruptions [wikipedia.org]

        The Yellowstone one is showing deformation of the lake currently,
        so make sure and invest in geothermal and wind power, lol.

  • Oh really? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by saskboy (600063) on Friday January 26, 2007 @10:57PM (#17780370) Homepage Journal
    "Global Warming May Have Killed the Dinosaurs"

    So Global Warming looks like a comet? Good thing McNaught isn't going to hit us, eh? ;-)

    It's sad that there's a massive following of climate change deniers online, but such is the nature of the Internet - even the kooks have large communities that can email millions of people.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by kfg (145172)
      It's sad that there's a massive following of climate change deniers online. . .

      Look up, "The Year Without a Summer."

      It was caused by . . .volcanos eruputing. For decades volcanoes have been well understood to cause global cooling by spreading ash into the high atmosphere which reflects solar radiation.

      It's sad there's a massive following of the global warming is going to kill us all promoters online and off, to the extent that they've had to warp everything bad that happens, everytime, everywhere, to the ef
      • by mdsolar (1045926) on Saturday January 27, 2007 @12:12AM (#17780836) Homepage Journal
        Volcanos cause short term cooling until the ash falls out. Many volcanos erupting together cause longer term warming owing to the higher CO2 concentration.

        You seem to want the climate to be entirely free from constraints of cause and effect, it can go wherever it wants for no reason at all. This is, I think, what you mean by instability. Climate feedbacks do occur but this is not the same thing as the butterfly effect which makes weather difficult to predict. Climate follows forcing and both the short term aerosols that you cite and the long term GHG balance have definite effects on climate.
        ----
        Because this false equating of weather behavior and climate behavior has been a major part of a well funded attempt to decieve the public http://mdsolar.blogspot.com/2007/01/your-opinion-c ould-be-paid-for-by.html [blogspot.com] you may want to closely scutinize what has influenced your opinion here.

        Skeptical about global warming? Who cares, you can still save money by switching to solar: http://mdsolar.blogspot.com/2007/01/slashdot-users -selling-solar.html [blogspot.com]
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by kfg (145172)
          You seem to want the climate to be entirely free from constraints of cause and effect, it can go wherever it wants for no reason at all.

          Balderdash. For starters, I don't "want" anything. This goes a long way toward freeing me from whatever the current fashionable hysteria happens to be. For seconds, things happen because of causes. Nothing happens "just because."

          That's magic. There is no magic. If there is something to the "paranormal" it isn't paranormal. If it happens, it happens for reason. Reasons are n
          • by mdsolar (1045926)
            Well, your bycycle example it a good one. The FUD that is being spread about warming often says "we can't predict the weather five days out, how can there be any certainty about 30 years out." It is difficult to predict if your bicycle will fall to the left or to the right, but, as you say, knowing that it will fall is pretty easy. The weather prediction problem is like the left-right question, climate prediction is like the will it fall question.

            On the other hand, the factors that go into climate are
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by kfg (145172)
              . . .FUD that is being spread about warming . . .

              If you have Fear that the climate isn't warming you just might have a political bias. Uncertainy and Doubt are called "science." If you lack them, you aren't doing any. All you can legitimately do is define their limits . . .provisionally. :)

              It is difficult to predict if your bicycle will fall to the left or to the right,. . .

              No. It's pretty simple really. In fact it was my field of research back in the 70s. Really. I can even determine which way it falls wi
        • by pipingguy (566974) *
          butterfly effect

          Butterfly effect [wikipedia.org]? Is this the new term for fluid dynamics?
          • by mdsolar (1045926)
            Tha't the one. In my opinion, butterflies probably have little to do with tornado weather, but I'm happy to concede that which path they take may have depended on when a butterfly took flight.

            My favorite butterfly effect predates this idea: Chuang Tzu had a beautiful dream that he was a butterfly. From that day he was never certain that he was a philosopher dreaming of being a butterfly or a butterfly dreaming of being a philosopher.
            ----
            Flutter by here to get solar: http://mdsolar.blogspot.com/2007/0 [blogspot.com]
    • The kooks are finding 'kooky' reasoning from 'official sources' like the UN, who might ignore the 13th century heat spike in the
      mainstream commercial graphs and diagrams.

      The kooks might only be saying, "hang on, are humans the 100 cause or perhaps 50% or 5%?"

      The kooks are saying that official scientific results are very weak and unprofessional given the bad record keeping of past or perhaps
      amaturish recording, temperatures in CBDs and urban areas are not reliable since theres a lot of local heating so they
  • by Dr. Zowie (109983) <slashdot@@@deforest...org> on Friday January 26, 2007 @10:58PM (#17780380)
    The most plausible work I've seen on the subject is based on Durda & Kring's [harvard.edu] recent work on giant impacts and heat of re-entry. Based on the size of the Chixculub (sp?) impact crater, they concluded that the heat of re-entering rock on ballistic trajectories would have heated almost the entire atmosphere to incandescence. This is global warming of a sort, I suppose.

    I've seen talks by archaeobiologists who assert that the dinosaurs were simply broiled by the heat coming from the atmosphere. That theory nicely explains why small, burrowing creatures suddenly took off and why the seas weren't as strongly affected by the land: anything small enough to hide in a burrow, or agile enough to swim deep underwater for a few days survived (at least in numbers large enough to propagate); everything else was cooked. It is also consistent with the fossil record, which shows huge amounts of charcoal cinders near the K-T boundary wherever you look, and a drastic change in the types of pollen present.

    Disclaimer: I am not a paleontologist, I'm only an astrophysicist.

    • by radtea (464814) on Friday January 26, 2007 @11:13PM (#17780488)
      It is also consistent with the fossil record, which shows huge amounts of charcoal cinders near the K-T boundary wherever you look, and a drastic change in the types of pollen present.

      The article claims based on microbiological analysis from drill cores in Texas that the impact event, the tsunami event often associated with the impact, and the KT boundary, are all quite distinct in time, and all are distinct from the changes in microfosils that they think are indicitave of the dinosaurs dying. The article ends with a ridiculous statement that implies birds evolved after the KT event rather than before. Birds are not dinosaurs. Birds survived the KT event. Dinosours did not.

      Curiously, they do not discuss how an impact of the type they claim to identify was not associated with a tsunami. Nor is there mention of how the irridium got into the KT boundary layer without an impact.

      Whenever you see anyone filling in an area of uncertainty with a trendy, crisis-du-jour explanation, you should be very sceptical. The odds that a major socio-economic/political concern today just happens to be related to a mass extinction in the distant past are extremely low. The odds of scientists (and reporters) letting current concerns bleed into their hypotheses is on the other hand extremely high.
  • by Bwana Geek (1033040) on Friday January 26, 2007 @10:59PM (#17780394) Journal
    Obviously, the government needs to enforce reductions in volcanic emissions. In order to save our planet, we need to progress toward the use of more environmentally-friendly natural disasters.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Hawthorne01 (575586)
      Either that, or get the dinosaurs to drive hybrids and install CFL bulbs.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 26, 2007 @11:01PM (#17780406)
    "The findings suggest that global cooling led to a sea level drop from about 80 m to 30 m that apparently was more detrimental to foraminifera than was the Chicxulub impact, which occurred during the preceding warming." Maybe I'm missing something but I always thought the meteorite caused a lot of dust which obscured the sun and led to global cooling. That's what also happens with a volcano. So the Slashdot article says one thing but the article it cites says another. Hmm.
    • by Kelson (129150) *
      First global warming winnowed down the diversity of species.
      Later, global cooling wiped out the ones that were left.

      From what they can tell, the Chicxulub impact occured too early to have triggered the global cooling.
  • by keithdino (467607) on Friday January 26, 2007 @11:08PM (#17780450)
    I know of at least one paper, published by Prof. Dewey McLean of Virginia Tech in the journal Science in 1978 that suggested that a major warming event was the cause of the K-T extinctions: "A terminal Mesozoic greenhouse: lessons from the past" (Science, 1978). Sometime later, he identified the Deccan Traps volcanism as a likely source of the CO2 that may have induced this warming: "Terminal Cretaceous Extinctions and Volcanism: a Link", in an abstract at the AAAS National Meeting, Toronto, Canada, in January 1981.
  • Iridium layer (Score:4, Interesting)

    by rlp (11898) on Friday January 26, 2007 @11:10PM (#17780464)
    How do they explain away the layer of iridium rich clay (around the world) from around the time of the mass extinction. Current theory says it's vaporized impact material.
    • by kettch (40676) on Friday January 26, 2007 @11:52PM (#17780722) Homepage
      How do they explain away the layer of iridium rich clay (around the world) from around the time of the mass extinction. Current theory says it's vaporized impact material.

      Easy, that is explained here [wikipedia.org] (search for iridium)

      Current global warming problems are explained here [go.com]
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      They don't have to, because they don't deny that the impact took place. They just don't think it was the cause of the extinction.
    • by thewiz (24994) *
      Actually, the global warming they are referring to is the heat blast from the meteor impact.
  • "For a number of years scientists have theorized that an impact on the Yucatan peninsula was responsible for the species crash, but microbiological examination of marine organisms of the time indicate life persisted for another 300,000 years after the 'Chicxulub impact'."

    Wow, I wonder if there's still life on the planet in question...
    • by bky1701 (979071)
      Nope, just robots.
    • Yes, but there is no intelligent life anymore.
    • by mrmeval (662166)
      Life yes but time will tell if it's sentient.

      All the howling about this is silly. We are of nature so what we do is natural. If we're to survive we will or we'll be wiped out and something else will come along.

      I want to watch this on TV....from orbit...around another planet...very far away from earth.

  • by starseeker (141897) on Friday January 26, 2007 @11:16PM (#17780512) Homepage
    The Chicxulub event, while large, is not the only large impact suffered in Earth's history. There are quite a number of large craters in the geologic history, and probably more that we have not stumbled upon yet. The Earth Impact Database lists two craters larger than Chicxulub:

    http://www.unb.ca/passc/ImpactDatabase/CIDiameterS ort2.htm [www.unb.ca]

    Wikipedia blurbs on the two largest (as usual, do more research to verify if interested:)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vredefort_crater [wikipedia.org]
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sudbury_Basin [wikipedia.org]

    There are also questions about a possible crater in Antarctica, but it's too new an announcement to know if the features observed are actually impact related: http://researchnews.osu.edu/archive/erthboom.htm [osu.edu]

    My question is, why would the Chicxulub event have been so uniquely deadly?

    I suppose one possible scenario is a double (or more) sucker punch of large impact followed by volcanic activity and/or other factors that happened to hit while the Earth was still recovering from the impact. Of course, that's a bit complex for a spectacular headline.

    I hope work continues on this - it's a fascinating insight into our environment and might be useful in knowing how to safeguard ourselves against changes in the future.

    • The circular Bushveld Complex is even larger than any of those (50,000 sq km!), but it is so old, that no-one knows whether it was the world's largest volcano, or the world's largest asteroid impact: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bushveld [wikipedia.org]
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by gwait (179005)
      Interesting!
      I went hunting the web to back up my armchair theory - that the Yucatan impact CAUSED the India lava flows directly (think bullet thru a ripe tomato)..
      India is currently about opposite the Yucatan, but I'm not sure where the two sites were located 65 million years ago (How much continental drift?). BUT on the way to try to track down some semblance of support for my pet theory I found this article about a very large potential impact crater right beside India that hasn't yet made the impact datab
  • by istartedi (132515) on Friday January 26, 2007 @11:33PM (#17780612) Journal

    Nah. Everybody knows the real reason [danielbowen.com] they died out.

  • It really isn't clear from the article how they define the boundry. It seems like a geologically disturbed region and somehow they put the boundry well above the glass. Yet tsunamis were supposed to have passed there so why not just rapidly cover it we easily eroded disturbed sediment? If the boundry is defined by irridum, and they are drilling in the bottom of a former river, again, sedimentation from irridum enriched erosion might expalain their measurement.

    There is quite a lot of evidence that in l
    • There is quite a lot of evidence that in less disturbed regions the irridum layer marks the dissaperance of megafauna so why is the survival of microorganisms a tracer of these? The KT boundry does not mark the end of flora, insects or microrganisms, just the big stuff.

      Seconded.

      I didn't read the article either, but I could tell that the summary is really badly worded.

      ...microbiological examination of marine organisms of the time indicate life persisted for another 300,000 years after the 'Chicxulub impact'

  • by dltaylor (7510) on Friday January 26, 2007 @11:56PM (#17780748)
    Every time one of these simple-minded "scientists" proclaims Chicxulub didn't do it, because of "X", it reminds me how badly science suffers from monomania.

    It's really not that difficult: the Earth's climate has demonstrated multiple stable (more than a few million years) and metastable states, ranging from snowball to hothouse, with side trips through conditions like our current glacial/interglacial metastate. The rate at which climate state can change, once change begins, is generally faster than species, particularly those embedded in "eco-web", can follow. When the Chicxulub event happened, the global climate state was moved toward a different one which was not conducive to the major fauna of the time, the dinosaurs. It didn't kill everything overnight (except near ground zero), but may have thrown off the timing of mating, reduced the efficiency of some primary plant's life-cycle, or in some other way moved the birth rate of the dinosaurs to below replacement (less efficient animals have fewer reserves and are more vulnerable to disease, for example). Some species and ecosystems may have required a few hundred thousand years to dwindle away, but the impact triggered that particular extinction event. Other events, such as the Permian-Triassic extinction, are more likely to have been caused by vulcanism.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by pipingguy (566974) *
      Thanks. Can you distill this down to a simple yes or no? I need to know because I'd like to Friend or Foe you, but I am unsure about how you stand on global warming.

      Also, is oil really made from dead dinosaurs?
  • If I remember correctly during the age of the dinos the earth was MUCH warmer than today. The O2 content of the atmosphere was also MUCH higher. Also believe it or not the whole asteroid/comet thing killing the dinos off is a theory. Not all of the scientific community is convinced that theory is correct.
  • by Varmint01 (415694) on Saturday January 27, 2007 @01:21AM (#17781162)
    A professor of mine once pointed out something very interesting about the Indian volcano theory for the extinction of the dinosaurs. The Indian subcontinent was, 65 million years ago, more or less on the exact opposite side of the Earth from what would eventually become the Yucatan Peninsula. Remember that the Earth is really like a huge ball of liquid, molten rock (the mantle) with a thin crust of solidified material on the outside. What happens when you flick a water balloon really hard with your finger, but don't break it? The force of the blow causes waves to radiate throughout the water from the point of impact in all directions, and dissipates against the inside of the balloon. The point of strongest force for these waves will be on the direct opposite side of the balloon from the point of impact, which bubbles out briefly before returning to place.

    On a global scale, a massive meteor impact would actually cause massive and very sudden volcanic eruptions on the opposite side of the Earth as it causes a wave of magma to concentrate on one very small spot.
    • by gnalle (125916)
      The article claims that the mass extinsion took place 300000 years after the impact. The sound wave should have died out by then,
  • A friend on my psychology degree had a couple of phrases that he always used in every essay he submitted. One was "...and hence is reductionist", the other was "further research is required". Of course further research is required! What else is there for the denizens of our mighty universities to do?
  • Just earlier today I heard that Global Warming may cause greater terrorism. [smh.com.au] Now Global Warming caused the death of the dinosaurs? What next? Global Warming causes acne in young women and may trigger that loud rock 'n' roll that all those children nowadays are listening to?

    I'm sorry but I think we're starting to reach a tipping point--and I'm not talking about the CO2 tipping point, either. I'm talking about the 'tipping point' where we've cryed wolf so many times in so many ways that the general public goes
  • I remember reading about that about 10 years ago in an article presenting the two possible explanations for this 5th extinction.
  • This is all misdirection and FUD, generated by the New World Order and the globalists. The truth is, the dinosaurs were all relocated to other planets by aliens. I know, I was there.
  • but microbiological examination of marine organisms of the time indicate life persisted for another 300,000 years after the 'Chicxulub impact'.

    Well, life (and I'd venture as far as to say marine life too) obviously persisted after this disaster too.

    They're talking like this was some catastrophy that destroyed life??
  • American Society for Microbiology site, your leading news source for everything between nano and macro.
    Wouldn't that be "for everything between nano and meso [etymonline.com] "?
  • (directed at either the researchers or the article writer)

    Try a *combination* of bad events and watch the devastation all add up. How about a series of volcanic eruptions and other possible solar events were causing a global warming crisis over a few hundred thousand years. Some creatures in the equatorial regions that couldn't adapt to the heat died off, as did those that ate them. You have large ecosystems in a very unstable state by trying to adjust.

    The larger pliosaurs might have also died out in thi

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