Friday, July 27, 2012

What REALLY Killed the Dinosaurs?

Today, almost all paleontologists believe in one of two scenarios that brought upon the downfall of the dinosaurs; the Silver Bullet Hypothesis, and the Blitzkrieg Hypothesis.  Proponents of the Silver Bullet Hypothesis consider the asteroid that hit Mexico 65.5 MYA to be the cause of the dinosaurs extinction, while fans of the Blitzkrieg Hypothesis believe that the asteroid worked in concert with other factors, like a number of extraordinarily large volcanic impacts and receding sea levels.  Although both of these hypotheses hold great weight, and stand up well to investigation, I find myself more in the Silver Bullet camp.  (If you are unsure, check out this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5gqq2rgOmi8 .  It's a bit long, but you can skip parts of it and still get the gist.  I was simply blown away after watching it, and landed smack-dab in the center of the Silver Bullet camp.)

However, this post is not to talk about the merits of the generally accepted dinosaur-death hypotheses; just like the post regarding the oddly named animals (http://thenaturalworld1.blogspot.com/2012/07/masiakasaurus-knopfleri-and-other.html), Scott Sampson's book Dinosaur Odyssey had another especially interesting tale, a tale about the many different hypotheses (over one hundred in all!) about how the dinosaurs died from over the years.  Here are some of the more interesting ones, quoted from Scott Sampson's book:

1.   Disease
2.   Slipped Vertebral Discs:  Because dinosaurs were so big
3.   Loss of Interest in Sex
4.   Poisonous Plants 1:  The consumption of these plants led to a deadly diarrhea amongst the dinosaurs
5.   Poisonous Plants 2:  The consumption of these plants led to a deadly constipation amongst the dinosaurs
6.   Fungal Invasions
7.   Climatic Change 1:  Global Warming
8.   Climatic Change 2:  Global Cooling
9.   Cosmic Radiation From a Supernova
10.  Egg-Eating Mammals
11.  Sunspots
12.  Nasty Aliens
13.  Not Enough Room on Noah's Ark
14.  The Racial Senility Hypothesis:  Dinosaurs, as a group, were young and restless when they first appeared in the Late Triassic Period.  During the Early Jurassic, the dinosaurs experienced "adolescence," as they expanded "in both form and diversity."  When they reached the Late Jurassic and Early Cretaceous, the dinosaurs had "reached their evolutionary peak;" they were middle-aged, and had nowhere to go but down.  Thus, in the Late Cretaceous Period, when the dinosaurs like Triceratops, Parasaurolophus, and Pachycephalosaurus grew interesting crests, frills and the like, these were "the result of hormones gone wild and certainly symbolic of a group on its way out."

Obviously, some of these solutions are more interesting than others, but all of them are, at this point in the study of dinosaurs, outdated.  But who knows: perhaps, someday soon, someone will discover proof that it was aliens, and not an asteroid, that ultimately did-in the dinos.

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