What, exactly, killed the dinosaurs? It’s a mystery we’ll likely argue over until we as a species go extinct ourselves. Was it a meteor? Volcanic activity? Something else entirely? We still don’t know, but a new study has found that whatever did it, it took out far more than just everyone’s favorite prehistoric creatures.
For example, it’s believed a meteor hit the Earth and caused either a global nuclear winter or global wildfires, triggering the extinction of the dinosaurs. But, in theory, the creatures in the Antarctic wouldn’t care. They’re under ice, well away from the sun, or in a freezing climate half a world away from what was going on. What impact could it possibly have on them?
Quite a bit, it turns out. A new study reveals that a lot of Antarctica’s sea life was wiped out suddenly and at the same time. It’s not really clear why, precisely, this happened, although it does appear that the climate in the area suddenly got much colder than usual after a warm spell, and not even Antarctica is immune to climate change. A sudden temperature decrease would probably be enough to shatter the food chain, and much of the Antarctic’s sea life would starve.
This would generally support the “meteor strike” hypothesis, since it was a sudden event with no precedent in the fossil record. And it’s a valuable reminder that we’re all connected, even to events half a world away, by the ecosystem. And at least it’s a bit more upbeat than the finale of Dinosaurs!
(Via Nature Communications)