Volcanoes Killed The Dinosaurs, New Study Suggests

Volcanoes killed the dinosaurs, according to a new study, which suggests that the mass extinction of the beasts was caused by volcanoes and toxic substances, not a meteor as others have suggested.

It is possible that tens of thousands of years of lava flow coming from the Deccan Traps near Mumbai could have spread poisonous levels of sulfur and carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, causing the mass extinction of dinosaurs, reports NBC News.

The research suggests that the toxic levels of gas caused global warming and ocean acidification. They were presented on Wednesday at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union.

The theory that volcanoes killed the dinosaurs is just the latest suggestion in an ongoing debate about whether the ancient beasts were killed by an asteroid or volcanism. The mass extinction, called the K-T extinction, took place about 65 million years ago.

Gerta Keller, a geologist at Princeton University who conducted the latest study, stated, “Our new information calls for a reassessment of what really caused the K-T mass extinction.”

Wired notes that the latest study is just more evidence to add to an increasingly more credible theory that volcanoes killed dinosaurs. Vincent Courtillot, who works with the University of Paris and presented the new evidence to the annual meeting, stated, “We’re discovering … amazingly large flows, amazingly short time scales and amazing volcanic [eruptions].”

The prevailing theory over the past 30 years has been that a massive asteroid impacted the Earth about 65 million years ago. The impact killed many of the dinosaurs and the dust from it blotted out the sun, killing off the rest. With the new evidence, however, the second theory has become a credible idea as well.

Courtillot still agrees that there was an asteroid that impacted Earth about the same time, but he believes it had little to no effect on the mass extinction. Despite the theories and evidence presented, it is likely we will never really know if it was an asteroid of volcanoes that killed the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.

[Image from ShutterStock]