Life and Death of the Dinosaurs

By Barry Taylor

I am fascinated by Dinosaurs that lived for over180 million years, there are many interesting interwoven facts that relate to this period in Earths history, the following facts are some of the things that excite me about these magnificent creatures. One intriguing fact surrounds the reason why some Dinosaurs grew to such gigantic sizes, it is hard to imagine such massive creatures actually moving, and creatures such as the well known Sauropods like the Apatosaurus for example.

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rock and gem magazine issue 60 summer 2013


It has been argued that the level of oxygen in the atmosphere was much higher at this time making it easier for creatures to grow to a larger size. Some flying reptiles also grew to huge sizes, there were Pterosaurs as large as a glider, some even as large as a giraffe, how on earth did they fly let alone take off, how did they survive! Do we really know what the strength of Earths gravity at that time, even a slightly lower gravity would have been helpful?
Perhaps such exotic things as dark matter and gravity waves have a place. It is known that space debris for example adds up to 14,000 tons per year or 25mm to Earths diameter every hundred years, therefore Earth would have been much smaller and more dense 150 million years ago?

I wonder if gravity is actually even a fixed measurement, presumably it is related to the volume of the Earth but are other factors involved? Even Einstein was unsure. Also what effect has density upon gravity, a lower gravity would favour gigantism, what are the parameters that guide such calculations I wonder, it seems to me to be a grey area. The orbits and positions of the planets would have been very different as would their rotation, we know that for example there were more days in the Earths year during its history; this is seen in daily coral growth lines with more days in the year. The movement of the planets at this time in earth’s history would not have been the same as it is now, Mercury has moved position and the activity of our Sun would also have been different, fanciful maybe, but can we be so sure?

It is widely accepted that an Asteroid impact is considered to be the most likely cause for the demise of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago along with other creatures. Some Dinosaurs are actually thought however to have lasted in places well beyond the apparent extinction event with much later fossils having now been discovered. We know that the birds are related to dinosaurs and they were around well before the extinction event and obviously were still around after the event.
How much of a global event was the aftermath I wonder, surely only half the globe will have been directly effected. The after effects are pure conjecture and such things can only be broadly guess at, what I wonder were the actual global effects of the Meteorite strike?

The Asteroid that fell at Chicxelube in Mexico was calculated to have been around 6 miles across; this left a giant crater estimated to be 150 miles in diameter. More recently however the much larger 500 mile wide Shiva crater has been found deep in the Indian Ocean, this is estimated to have been formed by a 40 mile wide Asteroid and this crater is reported to be of the same age as the one in Mexico. This discovery raises the prospect that a very much lager object had actually broken up prior to hitting the Earth, just as the object did that hit Jupiter in the well documented images of the event seen recently in 2009, you could clearly see the results.

Perhaps such a massive strike could have disturbed the very core of the Earth, it has been suggested that the Earth would have rung like a bell, As Earths core is also the source of our magnetic field I feel sure that such an event must have been recorded somewhere in the volcanic rocks of the Deccan Peninsular. It has been suggested that the Shiva impact was so large that it created the intense volcanism that formed the Deccan Traps in India; some argue however that this volcanism could have started much earlier.

The volcanism has been dated at around 65 million years ago with a margin for error, if it was earlier where is the data; there were certainly huge outpourings of lava over a very short space of time geologically speaking, a period of up to 3 million years.

Just as I was writing this a meteorite has hit Russia and caused damage affecting thousands of people, finally the Swift Tuttle meteorite will approach Earth in 2126, it could even hit us, I hope not.

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