Something happened 65 million years ago, at the end of the Cretaceous period, something so devastating that it altered the course of life on earth. It seems like it happened so sudden, as geologic time goes, that almost all the dinosaurs living on earth disappeared. So how did these dominant creatures just die off? Was it a slow extinction, or did it happen all of the sudden? These questions bring rise to many different beliefs on how the dinosaur disappeared over 65 million years ago.
Extinction itself is easily defined: When the birth rate fails to keep up with the death rate, it is called extinction. But, the definition does not answer the question about the nature or causes of extinction. Paleontologists generally divide extinctions into two types, for that of different causes arose. The first is called background extinctions, isolated extinctions of species due to a variety of causes. Included is out competition, depletion of resources in a habitat, changes in climate, the development or destruction of a mountain range, river channel migration, the eruption of a volcano, the drying of a lake, or the destruction of a forest, grassland, or wetland habitat.
The second type of extinction is called mass extinctions. There are four main components involved: Large numbers of species go extinct; many types of species go extinct; the effects must be global; and the effects must occur in a geologically short period of time.1
The dinosaur could not have lived for ever. No creatures, no plants, no tiny bacteria are forever, not even Homo sapiens. Extinction is the fate of all species. One theory on how the dinosaurs became extinct is that of carbon dioxide, and the ³greenhouse effect². Volcanoes produced the proposed conditions. A massive volcanic eruption could have saturated the atmosphere with carbon dioxide so that it caused a sharp rise in temperatures worldwide. The excessive carbon dioxide would have permitted solar energy to enter the atmosphere but would have blocked the radiation of most surface heat back out into space, therefore causing the ³greenhouse effect². Rising temperatures could have killed off or reduced the activity of plankton, disrupting food chains and also messing up the plankton¹s normal role in converting carbon dioxide to oxygen through photosynthesis. From there it would not have been long for all the dinosaurs to have been suffering, and then to become extinct.
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