We all know the story of how a massive dino-killing asteroid slammed into Earth, sending rippling destruction through our planet, annihilating the dinosaurs in one of the biggest extinction events our planet has ever seen. But what if I told you that the dinosaurs were already doomed well before that asteroid hit?
At least, that seems to be the argument that researchers are making in a new study published in Science Advances. The researchers say that before the dramatic event that ended the era of dinosaurs hit, the winds of change were already working against the giant creatures, creating a toxic atmosphere that would have wiped them out anyway.
According to this new study, the dinosaurs were already doomed because sulfur levels in the atmosphere were likely starting to reach critical levels, signifying that volcanic activity was especially strong during that time. Strong enough to cause major disruptions in the global climate, even.
This isn’t the first time this theory has surfaced, either. It was also posited back in the early 1990s. However, researchers at the time said that the timing of the volcanic activity was too early. However, this new research, and other studies like it, demonstrate that the timing could have been close enough to be significant.
“Our data suggest that volcanic sulfur degassing from such activity could have caused repeated short-lived global drops in temperature,” the researchers wrote in the paper. The team examined rocks gathered from Deccan Traps in West India and applied a new technique, which helped them measure sulfur concentrations.
The result shows that the dinosaurs very well may have already been on their way to a big doomsday event, which would have seen the global temperatures plummeting as the Earth was blanketed in volcanic ash, creating deadly volcanic winters that most of the dinosaurs just wouldn’t have survived. Scientists have also posited that the nuclear winter created by asteroid dust was actually responsible for killing off dinosaurs, not just the initial blast from the impact.
It’s definitely an intriguing theory, and one that more research could very well prove as accurate. But, even if that were the case, the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs was still spiraling toward our planet, and the dinosaurs likely would have died one way or the other.