A Moment of Science

Extinction by Volcano?

Do you know how the dinosaurs went extinct? Learn more on this Moment of Science.

Erupting Volcano

Photo: The Trumpsters (flickr)

Errupted on 12 June 2009 in the Kuril Islands, northeast of Japan. The multi-day eruption has been detected 2,407 kilometers east-southeast and 926 kilometers west-northwest of the volcano.

Do you know how the dinosaurs went extinct?

Everyone has learned at some point that a giant meteor hit the earth somewhere in Mexico causing an explosion was so massive that it changed Earth’s climate, disrupted the food chain, and killed off the dinosaurs around sixty five million years ago.

Or at least that’s one theory . . .

Some scientists think that a massive volcanic eruption in India might have killed the dinosaurs. A team of geologists studying the ancient lava flows from the eruption found fossils in the lava from animals that evolved just after the dinosaurs went extinct. The fossils help date the eruption, which seems to have happened at the same time as the mass extinction that did in the dinosaurs.

How could a single volcano kill off an entire population of dinosaurs?

Well, as it seems, pretty much the same way as a giant meteor might have. We’re talking about a really massive eruption, probably the largest volcanic eruption that’s ever happened on Earth. Scientists think it coughed huge amounts of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere, which could have caused climate change severe enough to wipe out the dinos.

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