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Re: Hell Creek
What strikes me are the odds. What are the odds of something as unusual
as the K/T extinction- one of the largest in the past half-billion
years- and another exceptionally unusual, global-scale event, one of the
largest known bolide impacts (w/a 200 km crater), occurring
simultaneously(as best we can tell) yet independently? That right there
is a hard one for me to see any way around. In this instance, I think
the close temporal correlation of these extraordinary events is
extremely suggestive of causation.
Conversely, the factors cited in the Discover article are neither
particularly unusual (transgression/regression of seas occurred all the
time) nor global in reach (how would this affect, say, your
abelisaurids, titanosaurs, and bizarre possibly herbivorous crocs in
end-Cretaceous Madagascar?) Because of this its hard to buy.
Anyways, a deep understanding of why dinosaurs went extinct will
probably come from studying microfossils such as plankton and pollen,
which preserve well, in large numbers, and with better resolution,
rather than dinosaurs (or other vertebrates) themselves. Which seems
paradoxical considering that the article has a T. rex on the cover. But
then again, kids don't buy Battle Action Cretaceous Foraminifera(tm)
-with real missle-firing action!... or line up in droves to see a movie
about genetically reincarnated ammonites on the rampage... dinosaurs(in
particular those with big, pointy teeth) are sexy, plankton is...
scientific. It's really too bad, I mean even the ornithischian people
have been finding that its easier to get a grant to study carnivorous
dinosaurs (Steven Spielberg never made a movie about an herbivore on the
rampage...) than herbivorous dinosaurs.