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This is a follow-up to my post of Tue, 20 Jan 2004 09:49:40 on Luis
Alvarez' misinterpretation of the K-T paleontological record that
"proved" to him that an asteroid impact 65 million years ago killed
most of earth's life.
Please read Alvarez' statement made in a talk at the National Academy
of Sciences (1982), and published in the Proceedings, 1983, 80,
"1) that the asteroid hit, and 2) that the impact triggered the
extinction of much of the life in the sea, are no longer debatable
In fact, the K-T transition geobiological record shows that Alvarez
was mistaken on the magnitude of any K-T boundary impact-induced
Dear Jaime, and other Colleagues,
The general K-T transition biological turnover was underway long
before K-T boundary time, and persisted into the Tertiary. The notion
of a catastrophic wipe out of most of earth's life at the K-T
boundary seems to have gotten into the literature by a physicist who
knew nothing whatsoever about the K-T paleontological record. One has
to be careful about imaginary "first principles" to make sure that
they are supported by the K-T transition geobiological record--which
is the final arbiter of all that we do in K-T science.
I recall how at the K-TEC II meeting in 1981, Luis Alvarez had looked
at species range charts across the K-T boundary and interpreted the
cut off of ranges of many species at the boundary as proof of an
Paleontologists, on the other hand, know that ranges cut offs at
specific localities are very likely are the result of a gap in the
stratigraphic record. Alvarez simply could not understand how
paleontologists could not see the cut off of ranges as proof of a
global K-T boundary catastrophe.
We commonly encountered hiatus-controlled cut off of ranges at
various places in the stratigraphic record in my graduate research
program on Cretaceous and Tertiary marine phytoplankton along the
Atlantic Coastal Plain.
I'll have more to say about the generalized K-T biological turnover
in a later post.