What if time machines are real and brought you back to the “middle life” era some 200-252 million years ago? What if one day you wake up in the middle of a forest from a loud and vibrating roar of a scaly reptile with terrifying teeth, enormous body, robust tail, and heavyweight feet that shakes the ground when stomping? I’m pretty sure you would either go back to sleep and pretend it’s just a nightmare or run as fast as you can! Who would love waking up beside a dinosaur anyway?
Ten million years before the first ancestors of humans were born, dinosaurs occupy the planet. Some fly, most walk, but all of them swim. They live in harmony with nature.
Scientists assumed that dinosaurs existed between 240 and 247 million years ago and lived for about 175 million years on Earth. But they were all wiped out in an extinction event millions of years back. The culprit of their mass extinction is still under investigation and scientists are on debate and continue gathering evidence through scientific research, experiments, and fossil analysis whether dinosaurs died because of an asteroid impact or volcanic eruptions.
We haven’t seen any real and alive dinosaur in our entire existence, we only knew about them from Jurassic Park and Jurassic World movies. But they truly had existed as their fossils were first documented in the 19th century. The term dinosaur was created in 1842 by Richard Owen, a paleontologist. It derived from two Greek words: deinos, meaning “terrible” or “fearfully great” and sauros, which means “lizard” or “reptile.” They were classified into two orders based on the structure of their bones: Saurichiansor “reptile-hipped” and Ornithischians or “bird-hipped.”
Some scientists believed that other species of Ornithischians or avian dinosaurs are still alive today, and we call them birds. But what had caused the mass extinction of dinosaurs 65.5 million years ago?
Many theories, assumptions, and myths have stirred up as to how dinosaurs died following the discovery of their fossils. One of the mostpopular theories is the Alvarez hypothesis, proposed by father-and-son duoscientists, Luis and Walter Alvarez in 1980. They presented the idea that a mountain-sized meteor crashed into Earth and filled the atmosphere with toxic gases, debris, and dust that drastically changed the climate. Their key evidence is the presence of a high amount of metal, iridium in the dinosaur’s fossils.
Iridium is relatively rare on Earth but abundant in stony meteorites, which leads them to conclude that the extra-terrestrial object causes the mass extinction of dinosaurs. It also helps support the claims as scientists were able to connect the huge impact crater known as the Chicxulub found along the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula extending into the Gulf of Mexico. They suggested that a meteor crash was powerful enough to send harmful gases in the atmosphere persisted for many years accounting for the dinosaur die-off.
On the contrary, other scientists debunked the Alvarez’s hypothesis and maintain their stand that the meteor impact event is unconvincing. The Earth itself is likely the reason for the death of dinosaurs.
Meanwhile, according to the volcanic eruption theory, proponents pointed out many multiple clues. The Decan Traps or the ancient lava flow in India suggest the end of the Cretaceous Period, the last and longest segment in the Mesozoic Era, where dinosaurs are still alive. The massive outbursts of lava discharged back between 60 and 65 million years ago caused volcanic rock covering about 200,000 square miles in layers with 6,000 feet thick. This significant eruptive event gives off a vast amount of carbon dioxide and other gasses in the atmosphere, causing dramatic changes in Earth’s climate.
Research and evidence-gathering among scientists continue today. The debate about whether the asteroid impact or volcanic eruptions caused the elimination of dinosaurs goes on. But whether one is correct or not, the common denominator is the drastic climate change that led to dino die-off. Humans should be thankful for the past events because if dinosaurs are still alive today, we will either live with them in fear and anxiety that any time of the day they might crush our houses, stepped on us, or they hunt us.
Now, let us just enjoy looking at dino exhibits and museums or watching dino movies and eat some popcorn.