Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Scientific Change

One of the great things about modern science is its willingness to consider new evidence and change its thinking accordingly. Evidence is now accumulating that it wasn't a meteor but rather volcanoes that might have done in the dinosaurs.

Accepted theory holds that the dinosaurs became extinct after a large asteroid crashed into Earth, rending the environment uninhabitable. However, that theory is facing a serious challenge as evidence mounts that it may have been massive volcanic eruptions in India that ended the species: huge volcanic eruptions that belched sulfur into the air for around 10,000 years could have killed the dinosaurs, according to new evidence unearthed by geologists.

Evidence is accumulating that it wasn't an asteroid that did the beasts in, but volcanoes -- the first real challenge the extinction theory has met in three decades.

A combination of studies on dinosaur fossils, magnetic signatures in rocks and the timing of the disappearance of different species suggest it was volcanoes, not an asteroid, that caused the dinosaurs' extinction.

"We're discovering ... amazingly large flows, amazingly short time scales and amazing volcanic (eruptions)," said Vincent Courtillot of the University of Paris, who is is presenting new evidence for the volcano theory this week at the American Geophysical Union conference here.

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