Extinction Of Dinosaurs Essay Research Paper Extinction

Extinction Of Dinosaurs Essay, Research Paper Extinction of Dinosaurs Ryan Humphries Biology 6th Period Two-hundred and thirty million years ago the first dinosaur-like

Extinction Of Dinosaurs Essay, Research Paper

Extinction of Dinosaurs

Ryan Humphries


6th Period

Two-hundred and thirty million years ago the first dinosaur-like

creature roamed the earth. Within five million years it could be considered a

dinosaur. They were soon at the top of the food chain. They populated every

continent. Then 65 million years ago they vanished. The most powerful

creatures ever to live on earth had become extinct.

Dinosaurs were not the only victims of this “mass extinction.” There

were many other species that were killed off. During what is known as the K-T

extinction (K stands for Cretaceous, T stands for Tertiary), many species and

families became extinct. These include all marine reptiles such as plesiosaurs,

mosasaurs, ichthyosaurs, and ammonites, swimming and flying reptiles, sea

crocodiles, and foraminifera. In addition to that there were many bony fish,

sponges, snails, clams, and sea urchins became extinct.

Paleontologists have proposed scenarios that could have caused these

extinctions. One such scenario involves the growing number of small mammals

which ate dinosaur eggs, and therefore caused the dinosaurs’ birth rate to drop.

The birth rate became smaller than the death rate and the dinosaurs died out.

This, however, is not a plausible scenario. This would only account for the

dinosaurs, but not all the other creatures of that time. Paleontologists needed

to come up with a more plausible and devastating theory that would include the

other creatures that died out 65 million years ago.

There have been several major theories that have come about that can all

be substantiated. Any one of these events, theorized by paleontologists, could

have brought an end to the dinosaurs and all the other species that died with

them. Since there are many theories about this I will not write about them all.

I have chosen the theory about death by Cosmic Collision (an asteroid).

In 1980 Luis Alvarez and John Sepkowski Jr., famous geologists, blamed

the extinction of the dinosaurs on a large celestial body which hit the Earth 65

million years ago. According to them, an asteroid five miles across blasted

through the Earth’s crust, and threw up molten rock, ash, and dust. Adding to

the support to this theory is the discovery of a layer of iridium in New Zealand,

Denmark, and Italy. This layer became known as the iridium anomaly. Remarkably,

this layer of iridium was found in sedimen tary rock that is abundant on other

celestial bodies. This was too remarkable to be a coincidence, so the research

team decided that the layer of iridium must have been caused by space debris

which resulted from the collision of Earth and another celestial body. At first,

Alvarez’s theory was not widely accepted, but as more iridium was found from

that period of time around the world, it became the leading theory. Other

evidence includes the discovery of stishovite, a mineral created by high heat

and pressure. These two minerals were most likely caused by a cosmic collision.

Even more stunning, geologists have found a huge crater on the Yucatan Peninsula

which is dated to be exactly 65 million years old.

Whatever hit the Earth would have caused extreme and immediate havoc,

includ ing, a blast wave which would have incinerated everything in its path.

Tsunamis would occur in oceans all over the world and would affect vast areas.

Water and rock would evaporate. The impact of the asteroid would cause massive

earthquakes all over the Earth, and these earthquakes would increase volcanic

activity. The power of the collision would have also caused global wildfires.

Scientists have discovered large quantities of sulfur around the crater at the

Yucatan Peninsula. When the asteroid or comet hit, it would have mixed with

water to form sulfuric acid, which would have created a barrier to block out

light and heat from the sun. This could have lasted for decades. This cloud of

darkness would have killed off vegetation, and then herbivores, having nothing

to eat, would have died. With no herbivores to eat, carnivores would have

killed each other, and the reign of the dinosaurs would have ended.

Now Alvarez’s theory is regarded as one of the leading theories justifying

the K-T extinct