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Volcanoes Helped Dinosaurs Rule the Earth

The Bangkok Post offered a story postulating that severe volcanic eruptions actually allowed dinosaurs to rule the earth
WASHINGTON: Dinosaurs first came to be 200 million years ago after volcanic eruptions killed off their rivals, and were later wiped from the face of the Earth by a meteorite, palaeontologists have found.

A climatic catastrophe that saw an abrupt rise in atmospheric gases, coupled with powerful volcanic eruptions decimated crurotarsans, creatures closely related to today’s crocodiles, according to a study led by Brown University palaeobiologist Jessica Whiteside.

The paper, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, was the first to make the link between volcanic activity, climate change and the widespread extinction of a specific animal species.
Scientists found that huge volcanic eruptions across the planet increased the amount of CO2 and other greenhouse gases, wiping out half of plant species and marking the end of the Triassic period, one of five great mass extinctions of Earth’s history.

More than 200 million years ago, the supercontinent Pangea broke up as the North American and African plates began drifting apart. During their separation, the plates created a basin that eventually became the Atlantic Ocean while fissures cleaved the area. Massive outflows of lava ensued, covering over 9 million square kilometres, an area about the size of the continental US. The volcanic eruptions lasted about 600,000 years.

But the reasons underlying dinosaurs’ survival, diversification and massive size for 160 million years while their crurotarsan foes did not evolve in a similar fashion remains a ‘‘mystery’’. One of the main hypotheses is they were physiologically superior to the crutotarsans. AFP
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