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Extinction, the big picture



Greetings all,

Well, I'm back from diggin' dinosaurs in SD, and I'm amazed that the
extinction thread has raised its head once again.

If we do not look closely at the extinctions of all the life forms at the
K/T boundary we are spittin' into the wind. The ammonites and other
cephalopods, along with a "butt load" of other invertebrates, also left us
some clues with their depature. I doubt any parasite or pathogenic factor
cited for dinosaurs can be applied to these creatures unless it was a
planet-wide bug that was highly selective. Did the rotting corpses of
billions of dinosaurs poison the oceans? I sortta doubt it, but it's
impossible to rule out.

I've been hesitant to suggest that aside from the energetic effects of a
bolide it might have brought something else along with it, or mutated
something already here. What the "something" might be, I have no idea.
Since we have very little chance of finding a clue, time being the bitch
she is, we have to either have a leap of faith or find the smoking gun. The
rhino virus may have never existed before the Chixychubby whack. How would
one prove it one way or another? An alien spore of a new strain of fungus
may have been a dormant passenger that was totally new, then, and
selectively poisonous to some species while harmless to others. Whether
such a pathgenic microrganism could survive the trip, again, who knows. I
think it might be more likely than such an impact would alter a preexisteng
organism. I have no clue as to the likelyhood of such a mutation, just a
thought.

The Decann lava episodes, plate tectonics, shifting meteorlogical patterns,
and other factors may have made life on dinosaurs pretty tough, but what
happened to some of the oceans life forms? Species diversity may have been
declinig in dinosaurs, which is debateable, but their populations were at
huge proportions, (see references of maashrictian hadrosaur bone beds). The
question does indeed point toward the bolide episode as the ignition source
for an explosive situation. The straw that broke the Triceratops back, as
it were.

 I must agree with George O. that this whole thread is becoming a tad
tiresome, but I can understand the interest. Afterall, we would all like to
know exactly what happened to end the dinosaurs long age of domination.




Roger A. Stephenson
Assistant Director
The Grand River Museum
Lemmon, South Dakota