Millions of years ago, life as we know it was constantly changing. Dinosaurs ruled the land and flew freely in the air. However, there’s an enduring mystery that, even today, scientists still discuss: why did they die out? Was it an asteroid, or perhaps Global Warming? It might surprise you to learn that the answer to that question is much simpler than you think.
A team of researchers from Harvard University believes they have found the answer. Their research suggests that the dinosaurs became extinct due to vitamin D3 deficiency in their eggs. The research team theorized that this deficiency caused their shells to be too thin. This condition could make them more susceptible to predators and unable to survive in the wild.
They tested their hypothesis on chickens by feeding them an artificial diet. It mimicked what it would be like for dinosaurs with a lack of vitamin D3 in their diet. After three weeks on this diet, they found that the chickens’ shells were thinner than normal, and they developed osteoporosis. In this condition, bones become brittle and weak due to vitamin D3 deficiency.
Everyone is familiar with the story of the extinction of dinosaurs. The deadly impact of meteorites millions of years ago led to the extinction of many species, including the dinosaurs. The extinction of dinosaurs is a familiar story, but there are some alternative theories people use to explain the extinction of dinosaurs. Let’s look at another theory.
The Asteroid Impact Hit The Earth with the Force of One Billion Hiroshima Bombs
Scientists agree that a giant asteroid, Chicxulub, crashed into the Earth. The Chicxulub, a 6-mile-wide asteroid, created a crater in the Earth’s crust that slammed into Earth at 40,000 mph millions of years ago. The asteroid impact hit the Earth with the force of one billion Hiroshima bombs.
The asteroid hit the Earth in the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. It formed a crater 150 miles wide, 100 miles across, and 30 miles deep, which is big enough to fit all of France into it. The crater is now known as Chicxulub, which means “devil’s backbone” in Mayan.
The asteroid collision created enormous dust and smoke that blocked sunlight for years. The eruption caused temperatures to drop in many parts of the world. These conditions made it hard for plants to grow or survive for several years after the impact. The result was a period known as an “impact winter.” The impact of Chicxulub caused massive climate change.
A Plant-Based Diet Might be the Reason for the Mass Extinction of Dinosaurs
For these dinosaurs, a lack of plant life caused by an impact winter would have made it difficult for them to find enough food to feed their chicks. The herbivores would have had fewer plants to eat, while the carnivores would have had fewer herbivores. An impact winter could also lead to low levels of sunlight and an increased likelihood of freezing temperatures.
If you were a dinosaur, how would you keep yourself warm? The answer may lie in your blood circulation system. You’d need a boost from vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) deficiency. It’s a condition that affects your bones when there aren’t enough nutrients available from sunlight exposure or diet. Dinosaurs needed healthy blood circulation to stay warm during colder weather conditions.
What is Cholecalciferol?
Cholecalciferol, a fat-soluble vitamin that helps your body absorb calcium, is also known as vitamin D3. It’s also important for bone health and muscle function.
Cholecalciferol plays an essential role in the growth, development, and health of all vertebrates. Chemical processes produce cholecalciferol in eggshells. If laid on an adequate substrate, it can provide an adequate amount of cholecalciferol for developing embryos.
7-dehydrocholesterol in the dinosaur body produces cholecalciferol when exposed to sunlight. Cholecalciferol helps with calcium absorption.
Scientists found dinosaur remains with calcified bones—a sign of vitamin D3 deficiency. This calcification suggests that dinosaurs may have suffered from a lack of vitamin D.
The Dinosaur Egg Fossil Called Baby Yingliang
A dinosaur embryo fossil is a rare find. A baby dinosaur fossil found inside an oviraptorosaur egg is even rarer. The researchers who discovered the egg in China named it after the team’s leader, who went by the nickname “Yingliang” when he was alive.
A baby dinosaur fossilized inside an oviraptorosaur egg suggests that the dinosaur may have suffered from a vitamin D deficiency. The Chinese Academy of Sciences in Inner Mongolia discovered the fossilized embryo. They believe that the discovery could shed light on the evolutionary history of these dinosaurs.
The dinosaur egg fossils were first discovered in 2011 by a farmer in China’s Liaoning Province. Paleontologists from the University of Alberta analyzed the fossils. They determined that the eggs belonged to an oviraptorosaur species and contained the remains of a baby dinosaur.
The scientists were able to identify the species as being closely related to modern birds. Like other dinosaurs, it had a beak and claws instead of teeth or nails.
This discovery is important because it suggests there might have been a link between vitamin D deficiency and reproductive issues among oviraptorosaurs millions of years ago. These animals would have had difficulty absorbing essential nutrients through their skin due to a lack of sun exposure.
The researchers report that no previous finds have included embryos inside oviraptorid eggs. Scientists described the specimen as a “miracle” because it is well preserved.
Effects of Cholecalciferol for Hatchlings Preserved in an Egg
Cholecalciferol affects hatchability, shell strength, embryo development, and thus offspring survival. You’ve probably heard about the recent discovery of a new dinosaur fossil—a hatchling preserved in an egg. This hatchling is important because it gives us an unprecedented look at these animals’ development, especially how they were able to thrive in their environment.
What if this dinosaur’s death was not a result of a cataclysmic event but rather something more subtle? What if evidence suggests a vitamin D deficiency may have been responsible for its demise?
Cholecalciferol (vitamin D3) is a fat-soluble vitamin. It affects many aspects of egg development, including:
- Hatchability – Cholecalciferol levels in the mother’s body can affect an egg’s hatching ability. A high level of cholecalciferol will increase hatchability. In contrast, low levels can result in embryos dying before hatching.
- Shell strength – Cholecalciferol also impacts shell strength. Eggs with lower levels may be more susceptible to predators or breakage during incubation.
- Embryo development – Cholecalciferol affects embryo development by regulating calcium absorption.
Effects of Sun Exposure During Summer and Winter
Vitamin D3 is vital for the healthy development of growing chicks. Eggshells can be a source of Vitamin D3 as chemical processes in the shell can transform its chemical structure into Vitamin D3.
The problem with this process is that it is only present in eggs laid during the summer months. This process happens when sunlight enters the shell and triggers a chemical reaction. Any eggs laid at other times of year will only have the naturally occurring form of Vitamin D3.
Chicks need 10 days’ worth of sun exposure or Vitamin D3 from that amount to survive. When less sunlight is available in the winter months, this is problematic. They cannot produce enough vitamin D3 themselves through their bodies. Insufficient vitamin D3 means they have to rely on their parents’ resources instead. Unfortunately, this becomes impossible if both parents are deficient.
The consensus? Dinosaurs lived in an environment with less sunlight than we do today. They couldn’t produce enough Vitamin D3 through their skin to keep healthy bones and teeth.
How The Lack Of Sunlight Can Influence Dinosaur Development
The researchers used x-rays to analyze dinosaur eggshells from China’s famous Jehol fossil site. Many animals died there during a massive volcanic eruption about 120 million years ago. Their analysis revealed no vitamin D3 present in these eggshells. The discovery of these fossils led to the theory that dinosaurs could not synthesize this important nutrient themselves.
A large amount of dust and debris in the atmosphere caused by the impact of winter blocked sunlight. It prevents the synthesis of cholecalciferol (vitamin D3) in dinosaur eggs. This condition caused a shortage of calcium, which is essential for bone development.
Although it’s not the only theory, there is evidence that blocked sunlight prevented dinosaurs from synthesizing cholecalciferol (vitamin D3) for healthy dinosaur eggs. They needed a lot of vitamins for their growth cycle. Unfortunately, when this vitamin was missing from their diets, it was hard for them to survive. It is one of many theories why dinosaurs became extinct.
7-Dehydrocholesterol (DHC): The Secret to Healthy Skin and Bones
Dinosaurs produced cholecalciferol (vitamin D) in their vertebrates. Vitamin D production happens when ultraviolet light interacts with 7-dehydrocholesterol (provitamin D3) in the skin. Cholecalciferol can enter cells and start reactions resulting in bone and teeth calcification. This process, called photosynthesis, requires sunlight to occur for it to happen.
Given that dinosaurs lived during an era before humans existed, it’s likely that they were not exposed to enough sunlight to produce enough provitamin D3 for their bodies’ needs. Humans who lived during this time would have been unlikely to produce sufficient amounts of vitamin D because they would have been less exposed to sunlight.
This process occurs in both fish and reptiles alike, but not mammals. The reason is that mammals have a limited ability to produce provitamin D3 through their body chemistry. Because they cannot manufacture Vitamin D in their skin, they must absorb it from food sources like meat or fish that already contain Vitamin D.
Birds cannot produce their cholecalciferol (vitamin D3), unlike other animals. Instead, they rely on bacteria found on their feathers for this essential nutrient during molting season; this bacterial coating helps ensure that birds can grow new feathers after shedding old ones.
Cholecalciferol (vitamin D3) deficiency in dinosaur eggs may have been the cause, which led to a decrease in hatchlings. Over time it can lead to the extinction of dinosaurs. The theory suggests that their eggs contained too little vitamin D3, which caused them to die off over time.
The final thoughts on this theory are that it’s not all that new. It was first proposed in the 1970s by paleontologist Robert Bakker. At the time, however, he didn’t have the same evidence to back up his hypothesis as he does now.
It’s also important to note that many scientists disagree with this theory and think it’s too simplistic—that there were other factors involved in dinosaurs’ extinction besides just a lack of light. But we’ll never know for sure unless we can go back in time (or close enough) and see what happened for ourselves.