The dinosaurs’ demise is often blamed on a huge asteroid which ploughed into Earth.
But now scientists have suggested that this space rock was not entirely to blame for the demise of our planet’s erstwhile lizard kings.
New data has just been published in the prestigious journal Nature which suggests the global mass extinction which took place 66 million years ago and by a double whammy of disasters.
The research shows the epic collision ‘reignited massive volcanic eruptions in India, half a world away from the impact site in the Caribbean Sea’.
New research suggests lizard kings were hit by ‘one-two punch’ which wiped them off the face of our planet (Photo: Getty)Researchers from the University of California have uncovered the ‘most accurate dates yet’ for a gigantic series of volcanic eruptions which spewed lava for 500km across the Indian Ocean over the course of one million years.
This slow-motion disaster created the ‘Deccan Traps’, a huge volcanic rock formation that’s 2km thick in some places.
If most the lava which formed the Traps erupted before the impacted, it’s likely gas was released that caused global warming over hundreds of thousands of years.
The dinosaurs would have adapted to this global heatwave and then perished when the asteroid hit, throwing up dust and debris into the air and causing temperatures across the world to plummet.
‘The cold would have been a shock from which most creatures would never have recovered, disappearing entirely from the fossil record: literally, a mass extinction,’ the University of California wrote in a statement.
A view of the Deccan Traps (Photo: Wikipedia)However, if this theory is not correct and the eruptions happened after the impact, ‘this scenario needs rethinking’.
The new data suggests the lava flows continued for about a million years, but also indicates three-quarters of the lava erupted after the impact.
Previous studies suggested that about 80 percent of the lava erupted before the impact.
The team believe the cosmic collision triggered ‘super-earthquakes’ which caused lava flows to accelerate after the asteroid hit Earth.
‘I would say, with pretty high confidence, that the eruptions occurred within 50,000 years, and maybe 30,000 years, of the impact, which means they were synchronous within the margin of error, said Paul Renne, a professor-in-residence of earth and planetary science at UC Berkeley and senior author of the study.
‘That is an important validation of the hypothesis that the impact renewed lava flows.’
It’s likely the combined effects of the asteroid and volcanic eruptions delivered a ‘one-two punch to life on Earth’
Volcanic eruptions produce gases like carbon dioxide and methane which warm the planet while others, such as sulphur aerosols, are cooling.
The impact itself would have sent dust into the atmosphere that blocked sunlight and cooled the Earth.
‘Both the impact and Deccan volcanism can produce similar environmental effects, but these are occurring on vastly differing timescales,” Sprain said.
‘Therefore, to understand how each agent contributed to the extinction event, assessing timing is key.’