Study finds asteroid impact, not volcanoes, made the Earth uninhabitable for dinosaurs: 'Only plausible explanation'




Study finds asteroid impact, not volcanoes, made the Earth uninhabitable for dinosaurs: \
Study finds asteroid impact, not volcanoes, made the Earth uninhabitable for dinosaurs: \'Only plausible explanation\'  

It was the asteroid after all.

A new study confirms that an asteroid impact 66 million years ago - not volcanic eruptions - killed off most of the dinosaurs on Earth.

"Our study confirms, for the first time quantitatively, that the only plausible explanation for the extinction is the impact winter that eradicated dinosaur habitats worldwide," said study lead author Alessandro Chiarenza of Imperial College London, in a statement.

The asteroid strike would have released particles and gases high into the atmosphere, blocking out the sun for years and causing permanent winters, the study said.

The only dinos to survive were the species that went on to become birds.

"We show that the asteroid caused an impact winter for decades, and that these environmental effects decimated suitable environments for dinosaurs," Chiarenza said.

Study co-author Philip Mannion, from University College London, explains how the study was done: "In this study we add a modeling approach to key geological and climate data that shows the devastating effect of the asteroid impact on global habitats. Essentially, it produces a blue screen of death for dinosaurs."

Prior to this study, some researchers had suggested that volcanic eruptions may have caused the extinction event, which wiped out almost 75% of life on Earth.

The new study said that in contrast, the volcanoes may have actually helped to boost life after the asteroid hit:

After the initial drastic global winter caused by the asteroid, the study suggests that in the longer term, volcanic warming could have helped restore many habitats, helping new life that evolved after the asteroid strike to thrive.

"We provide new evidence to suggest that the volcanic eruptions happening around the same time might have reduced the effects on the environment caused by the impact, particularly in quickening the rise of temperatures after the impact winter," Chiarenza said.

"This volcanic-induced warming helped boost the survival and recovery of the animals and plants that made through the extinction, with many groups expanding in its immediate aftermath, including birds and mammals," he said.

The study was published Monday in the peer-reviewed journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Dinosaurs on Earth killed by asteroid impact, new study confirms

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