How Dinosaurs Actually Died

A ruthless murder was committed! Dinosaurs, the majestic rulers of Earth for over 150 million years, vanished in the blink of an eye.

The prime suspect? A colossal asteroid that struck Earth, causing mass devastation.

But was this truly the killer, or merely the one who got all the blame? New evidence suggests there might have been a second, even more sinister culprit at work.

The Last Days of a Kingdom

Sixty-six million years ago, Earth was a vastly different place. It was the Cretaceous period, one of the hottest and most humid times in Earth’s history.

Lush jungles and woodlands covered the planet, including the polar regions. Gigantic creatures roamed everywhere – pterosaurs soared in the skies, marine lizards swam in the oceans, and on land, dinosaurs dominated.

Then, in what seemed like an instant in geological time, they were gone. The world of the dinosaurs was abruptly ended. Why? While it’s true a massive asteroid struck Earth, could this have been just one part of the story?

A Beast Awakens

Long before the asteroid’s impact, another event had already started brewing – one that was older and potentially even more catastrophic. India, then a tropical island paradise, was home to the Deccan Traps, a massive volcanic region about to erupt in a dramatic fashion.

Around 800,000 years before the asteroid, the Deccan Traps began emitting 10 million tonnes of CO2 and sulfur dioxide each year.

Initially, this wasn’t much cause for concern, but the emissions didn’t stop. For half a million years, they continued to accumulate in the atmosphere.

The Beast Turns Furious

About 300,000 years before the asteroid impact, the Deccan Traps began spewing lava in what was nothing like a typical eruption – it was a lava flood.

Volcanos stretched across the horizon, continuously active, releasing vast amounts of poison and lava. The lush landscapes of India were first to suffer, with toxic fumes, massive wildfires, and dead dinosaurs paving the continent.

This wasn’t just a local disaster. The emissions caused global climate changes. First, the planet experienced a period of warming, with oceans heating up by at least 2ºC over 100,000 years.

Ecosystems struggled to adapt. Then, the climate abruptly cooled. Sulfur in the atmosphere caused acid rain, while CO2 acidified the oceans, killing plankton and disrupting the marine food web.

The Grand Finale

About 50,000 years before the asteroid hit, the Deccan Traps entered their most violent phase, spewing tens of trillions of tons of magma and deadly gases.

Wildfires, earthquakes, and tsunamis wreaked havoc. Hypercanes – massive cyclones with winds reaching almost 1,000 km/h – tore through the stratosphere, ripping holes in the ozone layer.

Mercury and hydrochloric acid clouds spread across the planet, delivering the final blow to already struggling ecosystems.

The Final Blow

And then, as if orchestrated by fate, a bright light appeared in the sky. An asteroid 10 km wide smashed into Earth with the force of 4 billion atomic bombs.

This catastrophic event, combined with the ongoing devastation from the Deccan Traps, ensured that 75% of all species, including almost all dinosaurs, perished. Only birds, the last of the dinosaurs, survived.

Who Was the Murderer?

Was it the Deccan Traps or the asteroid that doomed the dinosaurs? Or did they work together? Scientists have been debating this for years.

The timeline we’ve presented is based on recent studies, but there’s no definitive answer yet. Time has a way of erasing evidence, making it difficult to solve this ancient mystery.

A Terrifying Pattern

What’s truly frightening is that at least four of the five major mass extinctions in Earth’s history coincided with massive volcanic eruptions.

The Permian mass extinction 250 million years ago, caused by the Siberian Traps, nearly wiped out all life on Earth. This pattern suggests that massive volcanic activity might be a serial killer in Earth’s history.

Should We Be Worried?

Fortunately, we don’t need to worry about this happening anytime soon. The forces behind these ancient catastrophes are slow and currently dormant.

If they were to awaken, scientists would likely get a warning millions of years in advance, giving humanity plenty of time to prepare.