It is common knowledge that dinosaurs vanished off the face of the earth approximately 65 million years ago. It was a mass annihilation that still leaves peoples imagination wondering how they lived, how they ate and especially how they became extinct. Geologist and paleontologist are still trying to work out the details so is there any wonder we listen to what the popular myths are about dinosaurs.
Myth-All Dinosaurs died at the same time
When we apply the knowledge that’s available today the popular belief is that the dinosaur extinction was caused by a meteor that hit the Earth in the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico sixty five million years ago and wiped out all the dinosaurs at the same time. But does this mean that they all died from that impact? Even though it was a fiery death for some it doesn’t mean that they were all wiped out at that time. Let’s imagine for a moment that some of them did survive the blast then they would have faced starvation situations that would have wiped them out. This meteor would also have produced a huge cloud of dust that would have blotted out the sun which in turn would have killed the plants that the herbivores lived on, and then keep in mind that the carnivores fed on the herbivores. This process of extinction could have taken thousands of years but what is thousands of years compared to 65 million.
Myth- Dinosaurs the only animal to go extinct
The dinosaur, the pterosaurs and aquatic reptiles did become extinct after the blast of the asteroid which caused energy equivalent to millions of thermonuclear bombs today. They would not have been the only life forms to be eradicated from the face of the Earth. The difference is that though mammals, birds, plants and invertebrate followed the same fate as the dinosaur there was enough of other species that made it through and went on to repopulate the Earth and sea after it was all over. So there was life after the blast that wiped out the dinosaurs. This can be substantiated by some birds and reptiles that are still with us today.
Myth- Dinosaurs were victims of the first mass destruction
Dinosaurs were not the first to be exterminated by an asteroid. Another worldwide disaster took place more than 200 million years ago and may have been caused by a meteor impact. This was before the K/T extinction and was known as the Permian-Triassic Extinct Event. This event was responsible for the extinction of 70% of the land animals on Earth at that time and 95% of the sea life. The survivors of this disaster that made it through by the Triassic Period had evolved into the very first dinosaurs within 30 million years or so.
Myth- Dinosaurs were thriving just before extinction
Dinosaurs may not have been doing as well as some of us think before their extinction. It is shown in recent analysis that the process in which species adapt to new ecological niches otherwise known as dinosaur radiation had slowed down tremendously by the middle of the Cretaceous period. This proves that at the time dinosaurs were not as resilient as first thought. It proves that dinosaurs were far less diversified at the time of the K/T extinction than the birds, mammals or even amphibians. There were different species of birds and mammals that did survive this holocaust and continued into the Tertiary Period so the dinosaurs must have been weaken somewhat to not make it through at all. It could be the answer of why they went extinct.
Myth- Some dinosaurs did survive
Although there were birds and reptiles that did survive from the period of the dinosaurs they appear quite different than what we see now, it is almost a hundred percent certainty that no dinosaurs lived through the impact of the asteroid. To substantiate this there are no fossils found yet, to be known later than sixty five million years ago. This is solid evidence that the dinosaur did go extinct as scientist and paleontologist state. Technically birds are direct descendants of the dinosaurs as some reptiles are. This is a small consolation for the beast that once roamed the Earth.
Myth- Mammals survived being more fit than dinosaurs
One creature can’t be considered fit than another. This would totally depend on their environment. Until the extinct it seems that dinosaurs fit in very well into their ecosystem. The herbivores dined on lush vegetation and the carnivores dined on the herbivores. When the impact came and the extinction of dinosaurs happened this gave way to smaller mammals to become more fit. This would be due to the drastic change in circumstances such as a shortage of food for the dinosaurs but certainly enough to maintain small mammals.
Myth- Dinosaurs became too big
Believe it or not there may be some truth to this myth with some important qualifications added. At the end of the Cretaceous period a twenty ton Titanosaurs that would be living then would have to eat hundreds of pounds of vegetation every day. This would have certainly put then at a disadvantage if this food supplied would have died out from a lack of sunlight. This would have a definite effect on the multi-ton Tyrannosaurs that ate the Titanosaurs. It is likely their size could have had an impact on their survival even if they had escaped the blast of an asteroid.
Myth- The meteor impact is just a theory
This is a very powerful theory and was based on physical evidence by Luis Alvarez in 1980. Luis and his team found traces of the rare element iridium. This can be produced by impact events. They found this scattered around the world in geological strata and it dated back to sixty five million years ago. It wasn’t long after this that the crater in the Chicxulub region of Mexico was discovered. This crater was also dated back to sixty five million years ago. This affirmed that there was a huge impact on the Earth when dinosaurs went extinct. Again it is impossible to say for sure this was the cause for the total extinction but it certainly would have a drastic effect on life on this planet at that time. This put to rest the theory of the impact not happening.
Myth- Dinosaurs were killed by insects or bacteria
Everyone that knows anything loves to have their own theories and there really is no one that can honestly contradict them. This theory does have feasibility and in reality insects could have spread disease among the dinosaurs especially if they had been weakened by cold or hunger. You will not find any reputable scientist that would even try to substantiate this theory that the dinosaurs died from biting insects or bacteria.
Myth- Volcanoes destroyed the dinosaurs
This is a possibility. Scientist and paleontologist alike have verified from their research that the Earth was in turmoil sixty five million years ago. If this volcanic ash was in the air it would have certainly shut out the sunlight from earth killing the life that was here from sheer starvation if not from the result of congested air. It could have had a large impact on all life at the time but whether it was enough to make a species go distinct is still not known for sure.
Myth- Humans can’t go the way of the dinosaur
It is true that Earth still suffers from asteroid impacts but compared to the one that hit the Earth during the dinosaurs time they are not very big. Could man follow the way of the dinosaur? Maybe but we have a few things going for us that the dinosaurs didn’t have. We have a brain that we can use to plan ahead. Today we have scientist and the technology which gives us the capabilities of stopping a large meteor before it can hit the Earth. Of course there are other ways we can annihilate ourselves from the face of the Earth but maybe with the brains we have we can realize this and never have it come to a reality.
Regardless of the myths, scientist and researchers have come as close to what really happened to the dinosaurs as anyone can come. Maybe the future will unfold more evidence but as for today the asteroid incident seems to be the most feasible one. Like all things that are a little mysterious there will always be myths to go right along side of it. There are still mysteries to these spectacular animals that roamed the Earth and some day through study and research we may all know exactly what happened to the dinosaurs but as long as there are humans there will be popular myths about dinosaurs.