Environment

An Asteroid, the Dinosaurs and Climate change: A puzzle that never solves?

Humanity has recently gone haywire with Climate change continuously paying visits, in one way or the other, at its door. But why now?

Climate change has been changing faces of the Earth since we know it, but the speed of strangling changes taking place due to anthropogenic activities and desires, have gone beyond human understanding and control.

Humankind finds it difficult to sustain now. Climate change has been hitting us hard in unfathomable ways.

Therefore, the rate at which climate change is happening and the rate at which humans can conform to those changes has been registering an exponential difference.

Till now, we knew that the giants those walked this planet nearly 66 million years ago, were vanished by an asteroid that came crashing from the sky simply changing the way Earth operated, killing about 75% of all animals on Earth at the time.

This led to fifth mass extinction on the planet wherein many species could not survive including the dinosaurs.

But a recent study, published in the journal Nature, has pointed out that these creatures were experiencing a gradual decline throughout the period of ten million years, prior to the asteroid rendering the final, fatal blow to the specie’s existence.

Dinosaurs were believed to tread to Earth in the Mesozoic Era i.e., between 245 and 66 million years ago. Out of this, our Scientists took to analyze the Cretaceous period, ranging from 150 to 66 million years ago.

They surfed through the data available for six abundant dinosaur families of that time, which were then divided into two datasets on the basis of their diets: carnivorous and herbivorous.

However, around 76 million years ago, suddenly their populations started dwindling. The twin reasons were: No new evolution of Dinosaurs happened while the rate of extinction of this specie rose quite significantly.

 

To ascertain this, Paleontologists used the Bayesian model which is a statistical technique playing with probability to discover all uncertainties within the model, which were each run millions of times to root out possible sources of error.

These can be incomplete fossil records or uncertainty regarding age-dating of fossils or lack of evolutionary models.

On deep analysis, it was revealed that the first ones within species to wither were the plant-eating dinosaurs like the ankylosaurs, ceratopsians etc. This induced instability within dinosaur ecosystems leading to their collapse.

While a few others like troodontids registered a very small decline in their respective population.

“It became clear that there were two main factors, first that overall climates were becoming cooler, and this made life harder for the dinosaurs which likely relied on warm temperatures”, explains a professor engaged with the University of Montpellier.

Researchers clarified that the dinosaurs needed a warm climate to survive as their metabolism was made as such. Cooling climates may thus have impacted the lives of dinosaurs.

“Then, the loss of herbivores made the ecosystems unstable and prone to extinction cascade. We also found that the longer-lived dinosaur species were more liable to extinction, perhaps reflecting that they could not adapt to the new conditions on Earth.”

And as climate change begin contributing in the cause, an overall decline in dinosaur numbers could be seen.

This planet Earth has so far observed various tipping points, the instances those changed the history of Earth.

But the newer ones have become more interesting, considering the interference by Humans.

It is a concern because this clearer picture of the past provided by the study has also highlighted a potential similarly pessimistic situation that may greet us in the near future.

If the humans fail to correct the wrongs done; control emissions and exploitation, imbibe sustainability, create additional sinks etc., sixth extinction may not just be a speculated future anymore.

Even if we may perish by the impacts of climate change, we are kind of sure that an asteroid may not lessen Nature’s work this time, we have got plenty of eyes covering this vulnerability.

Alaina Ali Beg

I am a lover of all arts and therefore can dream myself in all places where the World takes me. I am an avid animal lover and firmly believes that Nature is the true sorcerer.

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