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Re: Dinosaur extinction




On Mon, 16 Feb 1998, Andreas Kolle wrote:

> Am I right in assuming that there are no accepted theories for the
> extinction of dinosaurs? 

Yes and no.  Experts in every field outside of paleontology _know_ and
have proof that the extinction was caused by a bolide which kicked up
photosynthesis blocking particulate mater.  This did in the herbivores and
then the carnivorous dinos starved as a result.  However, within the field
of paleontology (the field that should have the most informed opinion on
the matter) there is great skepticism about single-cause theories of dino
extinction.  Most recognize that the terminal cretaceous was a time of
phenomenal ecological complexity with many forces, both biotic and abiotic
coming into play.

>What are the most popular theories? 

Outside paleontology its bolide.  Inside it's a multi-causal phenomenon.

>Is discussing the extinction of dinos
> considered vulgar?

Unfortunately this topic has generated more ink and whacky ideas than just
about any other.  This may not be helped by the fact that paleontology,
unlike some more arcane sciences (such as nuclear physics), embraces
amateurs. However, as an amateur myself with my own ideas on non-avian
dinosaur extinction, I have found the discipline to be peopled by
enthusiastic, curious, mostly patient, and rightfully skeptical
individuals.  For them and us it remains a very important question.
It has broad ramifications for several bodies of theory: stochasticism vs.
adaptationism; abiotic vs. biotic causation; gradualism vs. punctuated
evolution; animal behavior; trophic relationships--I could go on.