For all the dinosaur lovers, we all know that these magnificent beasts went extinct 65 million years ago, along with the pterosaurs and other prehistoric reptiles. Paleontologists and geologists are still figuring out how many mighty animals could have vanished.
Before starting to list all the facts about the extinction of dinosaurs, we’ll first go through some myths that have generated some doubts and have no actual evidence.
Myths around dinosaur extinction
Dinosaurs were thriving before they went instinct
According to recent research, the rate at which dinosaurs could adapt to new ecological environments had significantly slowed by the middle of the Cretaceous period. At the time of the Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction, dinosaurs weren’t as diversified as birds, prehistoric amphibians, and mammals, who continued to divide into different species. Secondly, they were more resilient to the changes in the environment, unlike the dinosaurs who died of hunger because of these changes.
Dinosaurs were the only animals that became extinct 65 million years ago
Some scientists believe that after the Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction, there was a huge blast of energy in the atmosphere, bringing about a considerable heat wave on the earth. Still, I don’t think the dinosaurs were the only ones to feel the high temperature.
Of course, many prehistoric amphibians, prehistoric mammals, birds, and plants died because of this heat, but there was still a reserve that survived and was able to procreate again. Unfortunately, dinosaurs, prehistoric marine reptiles, and pterosaurs couldn’t take the heat and all died.
Dinosaurs became extinct very quickly and at the same time
Regarding dinosaurs’ extinction, we know that 65 million years ago, a meteor or comet hit the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico; this is the cause of the Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction. But this doesn’t mean dinosaurs were wiped out in seconds. After the meteor hit, a thick cloud of dust blocked the sun and moon. This caused three consequences:
- Because photosynthesis could not occur, the earth’s vegetation started to wither.
- Because there was no more vegetation, herbivorous dinosaurs had nothing to eat, and so they died of hunger.
- The carnivorous dinosaurs who fed on the herbivorous dinosaurs eventually ran out of prey and soon died of hunger.
These events probably took 200,000 years before all species of dinosaurs became extinct.
Dinosaurs were victims of the first mass extinction
This is another myth, but the Permian-Triassic extinction, which happened 200 million years ago, benefited the dinosaurs. This period of extinction, also called “The Great Dying” (caused by volcanic eruptions) affected 70% of animals living on land and more than 90% of sea creatures, so most of all life forms on the surface of the earth became extinct.
Archosaurs were the ones who survived this ordeal, and 30 million years later, which marks the end of the Triassic period, they had developed into dinosaurs.
Dinosaurs became extinct because they weren’t in good shape
We can’t affirm that one group of animals is in better shape than the other; it comes down to the environment these animals live in. We know that before the Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction, all dinosaurs thrived physically because they lived in a comfortable environment.
The food chain consisted of vegetation feeding off photosynthesis, herbivorous dinosaurs feeding themselves on vegetation, and carnivorous dinosaurs feeding off the herbivorous dinosaurs. After the meteor hit, this food chain became dysfunctional and caused the dinosaurs to die of hunger. However, smaller mammals became fit after this incident.
We still have dinosaurs that live among us today
I suppose you are talking about “dinosaurs” like chickens, ostriches, sea turtles, and cassowaries. In that case, you may win some points there, but if one is implying dinosaurs in our times, unfortunately, that’s far from the truth. There are no dinosaur fossils found in our time. And, of course, I never heard of a sighting of a Tyrannosaurus Rex on the news.
Dinosaurs became extinct because of their size
This is not a complete myth, and this statement has some truth. Imagine how much most of these 50-pound dinosaurs had to eat to continue living. For example, the Titanosaurs are a species that you could find on all the continents of the earth, and they weighed more than 40 pounds, so how they maintained their body mass when vegetation started to wither because of lack of sunlight.
But the events of the Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction only happened once, and size is not a big enough reason for dinosaurs’ extinction because before this extinction, many sauropods, who were known to be quite large, still existed for 150 million years, so 85 years before the Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction.
Dinosaurs became extinct bacteria/insects/aliens
I can imagine that maybe because of the lack of light, there could have been a possibility for an insect infestation to arise, which could have possibly quickened the extinction of dinosaurs. But the meteor didn’t just impact the dinosaurs, but all living things, including insects and bacteria. Already the temperature was very low during that period; bacteria breed better in high temperatures between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
This temperature range is what the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) calls the danger zone; under those temperatures, bacteria can multiply by two every 20 minutes. These theories based on aliens, time-traveling, and space-time continuum warps are based on cinemas, not concrete facts.
The K-T meteor impact (Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction) is just a myth, and there is no evidence
The K-T meteor impact is a theory that started with physicist Louis Alvarez and his son; they stated that a meteor about 15km in diameter struck the earth. In 1980 Alvarez, his son Walter Alvarez, Asaro, and Michel discovered rocks that were laid down at the K-T borderline, which contained a significant amount of metal iridium.
This element can be found in stony meteorites, as it is very rare to find iridium in the earth’s crust. Years passed, and the outline of a crater was discovered on the tip of the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. It is called the Chicxulub crater because it was found in the Chicxulub region. Maybe the meteor’s impact wasn’t the only reason for the extinction of dinosaurs, but there is strong evidence that this event occurred.
Facts about dinosaur extinction
Thanks to the discovery of fossil bones and other concrete evidence, we know that a long, long time ago, animals that were known as dinosaurs (terrible lizards) ruled the earth for a very long time, approximately 230 million years. And no fossils younger than 65 million years have been found to this; this time calculation marks the end of the Cretaceous period, where we suppose all dinosaurs became extinct.
Along with the dinosaurs, you also had marine reptiles like the mosasaurs, plesiosaurs, and ichthyosaurs, and flying reptiles like the pterosaurs. Most of the earth’s vegetation had been wiped away because of the bad atmosphere. The mass extinction removed three-quarters of life on earth, the small number of mammals, reptiles, birds, fish, and amphibians. This is a brief intro to what we know to be facts about the dinosaur extinction; listed are more solid facts about dinosaur extinction.
- Dinosaur extinction happened 65 to 66 million years ago.
- The extinction event that led to the extinction of the dinosaurs also the extinction of 75% of living beings on the earth.
- The extinction of the dinosaurs is known as the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction event or the Cretaceous-Tertiary event.
- The Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction event is also the end of the Mesozoic era.
- There is lots of concrete evidence that the Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction event was caused by a meteorite that struck the earth.
- Among all the theories given by scientists, the meteor impact theory is the most believed theory for the Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction event.
- The meteor impact theory was proposed by physicist Luis Alvarez and his son Walter Alvarez in 1980.
- The evidence that authenticated the meteor impact theory is found in the earth’s geological records, under the name K-T boundary, a thin layer of debris found in the geological record. This layer is likely to have significant levels of the metal iridium, which is rare to find in the earth’s crust but most likely to be found in a meteorite.
- The Chicxulub crater found in the Chicxulub region, on the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, in Mexico, is the landmark of where the impacting meteorite landed.
- Another theory is The Deccan Trap hypothesis, and many scientists believe that the basalt from the Deccan Trap flood caused the extinction of the dinosaurs by releasing huge amounts of carbon dioxide, sulfur and dust into the air. This event could have also blocked the sun, stopping photosynthesis and breaking the food chain.
- The multiple impact hypothesis is another extinction theory based on the fact that the earth went through a series of events simultaneously. This multiple impact theory is compared to the impact incident on Jupiter, a comet named Shoemaker-Levy9.
- Other dinosaur extinction theories include sea-level, climate change, diseases, and volcanic eruptions.