On Seymour Island, a patch of land off of the Antarctic Peninsula, a team of paleontologists have found fossils that are altering long-accepted beliefs about the extinction of dinosaurs. Thomas S. Tobin, a paleontologist at the University of Washington, worked with colleagues to examine a multitude of fossils that date back 200,000 years earlier than the purported meteor-caused dinosaur extinction near the Yucatán Peninsula 65 million years ago. The fossils are in such abundance that they are able to show that many marine animals went extinct all at once. This earlier extinction occurred right after a volcanic eruption on India’s Deccan Plateau. Scientists think that the Deccan eruption filled the atmosphere with particles that trapped heat close to the Earth, causing the extinction of a variety of marine organisms. Tobin’s findings could offer credence to a study in 2009 by Gerta Keller at Princeton University, who suggested a full three years ago that the meteor impact did not cause dinosaur extinction at all and that the dinosaurs died out as a result of the Deccan eruption. Kellera backed up her findings with fossil evidence that indicated that the meteor hit the Earth 300,000 years after the mass extinction. Although the time period differs in the two studies, both arrived at the same conclusion: dinosaurs died because of a volcanic eruption, not a meteor impact.

Read more about Keller’s 2009 study at The Telegraph, and the original article in the Journal of the Geological Society of London.

Read more about Tobin’s study at New York Times.com.

This study was published in the journal Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology.

Published On: November 27, 2012

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