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Mass Extinctions On The Earth Essay, Research Paper

Mass Extinctions on the Earth


Sixty-five million years ago, some phenomenon triggered mass extinctions on the lands and in the

oceans so profound that they define the geological boundary between the older Mesozoic Era, often

called the “Age of Reptiles,” and the modern Cenozoic Era, the “Age of Mammals.”

On a finer scale, the extinctions define the boundary between the Cretaceous (geological symbol,

“K”), and Tertiary (”T”) periods. This mass extinction is usually referred to as the K-T extinctions.

The dinosaurs became extinct during the K-T mass extinction. To examine how the K-T extinctions

fit into a broader perspective, please see the

The cause of the K-T extinctions is one of the great mysteries in science, and many scientists

have proposed theories to account for it. Theories span a vast spectrum of causes including: sea

level change, supernova explosions, climate change, and on and on.

Beginning in the 1980s, two new theories became the topic of an intense scientific debate. They

are the K-T impact extinction theory originated by the Nobelist physicist, Luis Alvarez, and his

team, and the K-T Deccan Traps extinction theory, which, for short, is called volcano-greenhouse


Details of the Impact Theory

In the mid-late 1970s, Luis Alvarez and his impact team began searching for the cause of the K-T


His evidence of impact was enrichment of the chemical, iridium, in a thin layer of clay a few

centimenters thick at the K-T boundary. His original theory held that a giant asteroid struck earth 65

million years ago, blasting so much dust into the atmosphere that it blocked out sunlight, and plunged

earth into the blackness and cold of a sudden, short-duration, “impact winter.”

According to Alvarez theory, the global blackout triggered extinctions among the plant kingdom,

and then among herbivores that depended upon plants for food, and then among the carnivores that

ate the herbivores.

Those smaller animals that could hide and hibernate until the sun came out again must have

sruvived and formed the animals that there are today.

There is other evidence for this theory : there is a layer of iridium found on top of the fossils which

can be found all over the world. this is important becouse there is a lot of iridium on asteroids while

on earth it is only deep down inside the crater.

Details of the Volcano Theory:

Another less popular theory to explain the disappearance of the dinosaurs suggests that a drop in

the oxygen levels in the lower atmosphere led to the gradual death of all kinds of species.

Robert Barner and Gary Landis of the U.S. Geological survey determined that the air that the

dinosaurs consumed contained 50% more oxygen than the air today. This can be the same for us as

trying to breathe to the same air found at the sea level as compared to air at 3500 m.

There was a lot of volcanoe eruptions at the same time (and since they took up soo much air it

was hard for the dinosaurs to breathe , so they fianlly died.

The evidence is that the fossils found in the ground contain traces of lager traces of Oxygen.

How can humans stop this?

Since mankind is much smarter than the reptiles it is obvious that we can stop these asteroids from

colliding with the earth. The only question is how. Now we have nuclear devices which can be put

on these asteroids so that they can explode just in time before it’s course is doomed towards earth.




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