Long ago, dinosaurs were the dominant animals on Earth. After thousands of theories about what led to their extinction, today we're asking: what gave rise to the reptiles?
A new study gives us a truly interesting theory about what turned dinosaurs into the dominant animals on our planet for quite a long period of time. It is posited that it was a series of volcanic eruptions lasting 1 million years.
The era of the dinosaurs began thanks to volcanoes - it does sound logical. Researchers have reached this conclusion after analysis of ancient rocks. In them they've found traces of emissions from monumental volcanic eruptions. These occurred about 200 million years ago and lasted for 1 million years.
The apocalyptic eruptions wiped out significant numbers of species on the planet, paving the way for the dinosaurs. Once the volcanic activity abated, they rose as the dominant species.
The conclusion is the work of lead author Lawrence Percival from the Department of Earth Science at Oxford University. According to him, the majestic animals took full advantage of the ecological niches that remained unaffected by the extinction.
Within the scope of the study, volcanic rocks from 4 continents were analyzed. Mercury was studied in particular, as it is a marker of volcanic activity. When they erupt, volcanoes leave behind traces of mercury in the gases that rise into the atmosphere. After permeating throughout, they precipitate onto sedimentary rocks and remain there for millions of years.
The found quantities of mercury in the materials studied indicate violent volcanic eruptions that continued for about 1 million years. This led to mass extinctions on Earth. Nearly all animals, including many creatures belonging to Crocodylomorpha, early amphibians and mammals died off.
However, the early dinosaurs from that period survived. For now, there is no explanation for how they managed this feat but it is a fact that once the volcanic eruptions waned, they had no competition. And this marked the beginning of their era.