Sunday, July 16, 2006

The Day Before the Meteor

The Day Before the Meteor

The Day Before the Meteor (2006)

So what exactly wiped out our dinosaur buds? Was it a deep impact or pandemic disaster scenario? From the BBC:

Until recently most scientists thought they knew what killed off the dinosaurs. A 10km-wide meteorite had smashed into the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico, causing worldwide forest fires, tsunamis several kilometres high, and an "impact winter" -- in which dust blocked out the sun for months or years. It was thought that the dinosaurs were blasted, roasted and frozen to death, in that order.

[...]

The impact theory was [note the was] beautifully simple and appealing. Much of its evidence was drawn from a thin layer of rock known as the "KT boundary." This layer is 65 million years old (which is around the time when the dinosaurs disappeared) and is found around the world exposed in cliffs and mines.

For supporters of the impact theory, the KT boundary layers contained two crucial clues. In 1979 scientists discovered that there were high concentrations of a rare element called iridium, which they thought could only have come from an asteroid. Right underneath the iridium was a layer of "spherules," tiny balls of rock which seemed to have been condensed from rock which had been vapourised by a massive impact.

On the basis of the spherules and a range of other evidence, Dr Alan Hildebrand of the University of Calgary deduced that the impact must have happened in the Yucatan peninsula, at the site of a crater known as Chicxulub. Chemical analysis later confirmed that the spherules had indeed come from rocks within the crater.

The impact theory seemed to provide the complete answer. In many locations around the world, the iridium layer (evidence of an asteroid impact) sits right on top of the spherule layer (evidence that the impact was at Chicxulub). So Hildebrand and other supporters of the impact theory argued that there was one massive impact 65 million years ago, and that it was at Chicxulub. This, they concluded, must have finished off the dinosaurs by a variety of mechanisms.

Bummer...

There goes the neighborhood...

[Image seen on Dinosaurs Alive!]

But, in the marches on tradition, new evidence seems to contradict the mass meteor theory. From the lab:

An ancient meteorite collision that created a vast crater off the coast of Mexico may not have triggered the extinction of the dinosaurs, according to an international team of scientists.

They say the collision off the Yucatan peninsula happened 300,000 years before the mass extinction, too early to have killed the dinosaurs by itself.

[...]

"Since the early 1990s the Chicxulub crater on Yucatan, Mexico, has been hailed as the smoking gun that proves the hypothesis that an asteroid killed the dinosaurs and caused the mass extinction of many other organisms at the Cretaceous-Tertiary (K-T) boundary 65 million years ago," the researchers wrote.

The K-T boundary can be seen in rock formations as a thin layer of clay rich in iridium, an element common in meteorites.

But the researchers said a core drilled out of the middle of the crater suggested it dated back more than 300,000 years before the K-T boundary and "thus did not cause the end-Cretaceous mass extinction as commonly believed."

[...]

This finding would support an alternative theory that the dinosaurs and other forms of life were wiped out in a series of disasters that changed the Earth's climate, [Professor Gerta] Keller's team said.

Defoliate two trees and call me in the morning...

Must be that pterodactyl flu going around...

[Cartoon seen on Dinosaur Floor]

Of course, since "The Decider" was coronated elected, he has decided that science is not decisive and should be more faith-based. His "base" has opened time tunnels and empowered flunkies theorists to conjecture that dinosaurs and humans could have easily hung in the same hood. From The Creationist Evidence Museum:


This scientifically chartered museum was established in July of 1984 for the purpose of research, excavation, and display of scientific evidence for creation. The Museum's team, led by its Founder and Director, Carl Baugh, Ph.D., has excavated eleven dinosaurs (Acrocanthosaurus, Stegosaurus, Allosaurus , etc.), 475 dinosaur tracks, 86 human footprints, 7 cat prints, and other fossil remains - all in Cretaceous limestone. Excavations were professionally documented along the Paluxy River and various other international locations.

Among museums this entity makes a unique contribution, demonstrating that man and dinosaur lived contemporaneously.

If Noah takes the raptors two by two, I'm outta here...

"That dude's gonna need a bigger boat."

[Image seen on WSKU News]

Hmmm. Yr. blogger is skeptical. "Dr." Braugh does appear to have three degrees -- two from non-accredited institutions -- and the third from a school he founded himself. And, well, his tracks seem to be of his own making. Glen J. Kuban, who has a legit degree in Biology and is president of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, notes:

For many years claims were made by strict creationists that human footprints or "giant man tracks" occur alongside dinosaur tracks in the limestone beds of the Paluxy River, near Glen Rose Texas. If true, such a finding would dramatically contradict the conventional geologic timetable, which holds that humans did not appear on earth until over 60 million years after the dinosaurs became extinct. However, the "man track" claims have not stood up to close scientific scrutiny, and have been abandoned even by most creationists. The supposed human tracks have involved a variety of phenomena, including forms of elongate (metatarsal) dinosaur tracks, erosional features, indistinct markings of uncertain origin, and some doctored and carved specimens (most of the latter on loose blocks of rock).

Well, nice going sleeping around Einstein. So what really snuffed out the dinosaurs? Isn't it obvious? It had to have been...atheism...

~/~

UPDATE:

My wife informs me that (once again) I may be full of it.

She politely points me to Stephen Jay Gould's essay called "Sex, Drugs, Disasters and the Extinction of Dinosaurs" (found in Biological Anthropology by Michael Alan Park). Gould, one of the sharpest minds in evolutionary science (and an amazing essayist) cites several other speculations for the rather sudden disappearance of the dinosaurs. I want to stress, however, Gould does not advocate these theories but mentions them more tongue in cheek.

And how these tragic ends must resonate in modern minds. For what killed the dinosaurs? Sex and drugs.

Sex: The Testicular Theory. Blame global warming. It dried up all the male dinosaur's sperm. Hasta la vista. Gould clarifies:

Testes function only in a narrow range of temperature (those of mammals hang externally in a scrotal sac because internal body temperatures are too high for their proper function). A worldwide rise in temperature at the close of the Cretaceous period caused the testes of dinosaurs to stop functioning and led to their extinction by sterilization of males.

Drugs: The Overdose Theory. The dinosaurs never just said no. They were too stoned to live. Sayonara. Gould elucidates:

Angiosperms (flowering plants) first evolved toward the end of the dinosaurs' reign. Many of these plants contain psychoactive agents, avoided by mammals today as a result of their bitter taste. Dinosaurs had neither the means to taste the bitterness nor livers effective enough to detoxify the substances. They died of massive overdoses.

Gould mentions Ronald K. Siegel, a UCLA psychiatrist, who is down with drug extinction and claims to have 2,000 records of animals that will self-administer available drugs. Gould observes:

Elephants will swill the equivalent of twenty beers at a time, but do not like alcohol in concentrations greater than 7 percent. In a silly bit of anthropocentric speculation, Siegel states that "elephants drink, perhaps, to forget...the anxiety produced by shrinking rangeland and the competition for food."

Man, such social adjustment would be tough if you could never forget. I wonder. Do drunk elephants see pink people?

I shoulda sucked two aspirin up my trunk first...

In Dumbo, the naive elephant drinks from a moonshine-spiked water bucket and then hallucinates "Pink Elephants on Parade." But now...

[Photograph seen on savethepinebush.org]

So, dinosaurs were done in by modern malaise. Smells like Jurassic spirit. Tastes like peyote cud. No doctor to see for that Viagara-less, four-hour, non-erection. Poor Dino. He was too tripped out to get it up.

And I never knew the Dead Kennedys were anthropologists. After all, they wrote a song called "To Drunk to..."...um...Procreate....

3 comments:

idyllopus said...

What an imagination....

cruelanimal said...

I'm not the only one.

Dave Makin, a friend and fellow fractal artist (visit his terrific galleries), wrote to say another protruding cheek theory of dinosaur extinction is plausible. Dave explains:

"The dinosaurs developed spaceflight and left. Of course, prior to this they developed intelligence and being naturally considerably more paranoid than we humans all evidence of such was removed -- both to avoid any future sentient creatures on earth such as ourselves and any nasty aliens."

Anonymous said...

The meteor hypothesis has a few holes and had to be adjusted a little during the last few years. The assertion now is that fiery debris rained down all over the planet, which was followed by a period of global cooling due to dust in the atmosphere. This fits the facts, but it seems too contrived. A great pandemic, like the one in Boyle's Full Circle, fits the facts justs as well. Personally, I like the built spaceships and left hypothesis. If they could do it, maybe we can too!

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