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Re: Theories on the extinction of dinosaurs
"James R. Cunningham" wrote:
> Seosamh wrote:
> > I'm trying to assemble some meaningful description of the interactions
> > among these observed (in the fossil record) events. Crudely, the
> > body strikes the Yucatan, a concussion travels through the Earth and
> > half a globe away the Deccan eruptions begin. The combined effects
> > of these two on the atmosphere change its chemistry to something
> > higher in oxygen.
> Er ah, the following is from memory, so may not be correct in all of its
> reconstructed details. I'll fish out my sources over the weekend if you wish.
> Your scenario may have a couple of problems with timing and direction of rate
It's not my scenario; I don't yet have one. I'm looking for something that IS
Since all three (impact, volcanism, increased atmospheric oxygen) are accepted
as real events occurring near the end of the Cretaceous, and the world wide
mass extinctions took place then, is there some obvious gap in how those three
items might tie together? The portion of my text which you quoted was an
admittedly inaccurate example of the *kind* of correlation that could be the
"smoking gun" which Tony mentioned earlier in the thread.
I used the metaphor of a jigsaw puzzle. We have several pieces in the fossil
record. We have a notion of the broad outline of the puzzle, i.e, a plausible
description of the extinction event(s) with causes and effects. What kind of
information would enable us to say, "Of course!" and clear up the mystery?
In other words, do we even know what additional information would be helpful in
assembling an explanation of the K-T extinctions? At least in a TV show, the
detective gets to look for the kind of weapon that inflicted the known insult
the murder victim, the "smoking gun." Outside TV land, are we at the point
we can say, for instance, "with more detailed understanding of the scope of the
impact and the environmental changes it wrought the end of the Cretaceous we
will understand why the largest life forms died out at that time?" That
example is partially amenable to study via simulation. Then such simulations
might be a prudent course in the search for the "smoking gun." Or perhaps our
information about the impact itself is too sketchy to allow such simulations as
more than an interesting exercise.
I'm trying to define the problem more clearly. It's habitual <G>. I'm not a
nor do I have any training in biology or earth sciences. But I do have a
approach to problem solving.