Dust plume caused ‘extinction of dinosaurs’, suggests study; ‘photosynthesis was shut down’, says scientist


‘The extinction of dinosaurs’ is one of the greatest mysteries in Earth’s history which is again in focus with claims that a massive cloud of dust may have been a key factor in the extinction of dinosaurs while previous theories suggest that an asteroid impact was the cause, reported OPP.Today.

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Scientists focused their research on the Tanis paleontology site in North Dakota which is known for preserving evidence of the asteroid impact event. Scientists analysed sediment layers that led them to the conclusion that a colossal plume of fine-grained dust, lingering in the Earth’s atmosphere for around 15 years, played a crucial role in the extinction of dinosaurs, as per a research published in Natural Geoscience.

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A chain of events was triggered following the impact of the asteroid. It led to a decline in photosynthesis and a cooling of the Earth’s temperature below 24 degrees Celsius. The dust caused an extended period of darkness that shut down photosynthesis for two years and disrupted the entire food chain.

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These new findings pose a challenge to previous theories of extinction. It stresses the significance of the duration of darkness. “If photosynthesis was shut down and that drove extinctions, it has to be dark for a fairly substantial length of time,” said planetary scientist David Kring as reported by OPP.Today. Prolonged darkness caused by the dust cloud was a major factor in the extinction of dinosaurs, the research suggests.

Though it is widely accepted that the asteroid impact had far-reaching environmental consequences, this research focuses on the fundamental role of dust plume in initiating and exacerbating the mass extinction. The catastrophic impact of the asteroid had complex and diverse effects on ecosystems worldwide that varied in durations and intensities.

By delving deeper into the mechanisms behind the dinosaur extinction, scientists are gaining a more comprehensive understanding of the past. The study suggests that small factors such as a cloud of dust can have far-reaching consequences that reshape the entire planet and its inhabitants.

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Updated: 05 Nov 2023, 02:45 PM IST


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