Climate change caused by volcanic eruptions has helped dinosaurs become dominant species

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According to research, ecological changes brought about by intense volcanic activity some 230 million years ago helped dinosaurs become the dominant species on earth.

During the Carnian Rainfall (EPC) of the Upper Triassic, an increase in global temperatures and humidity had a major impact on the development of plant and animal life, while laying the foundations for modern ecosystems.

In an article published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, researchers at the University of Birmingham provided the most compelling evidence suggesting that intense volcanic activity could have helped dinosaurs thrive.

For years, the scientific community had debated the reason for the dinosaur’s sudden demise, and whether it was a space rock or whether it was intense volcanic activity. In 2010, groundbreaking research ended the debate and confirmed that the impact of the asteroid Chicxulub was the one that wiped out the dinosaurs.

Researchers analyzed fossil plant records and sediments from a lake in the Jiyuan Basin in northern China, which matched pulses of volcanic activity with environmental changes, including the “mega monsoon.” which occurred during the Carnian rain event.

According to Jason Hilton, co-author of the article and professor of paleobotany and paleoenvironments at the University of Birmingham, in two million years, plant and animal life on earth has undergone major changes. Few species of marine life have gone extinct, while plants and animals on the ground have diversified. The events coincide with the period of intense rain known as the CPE.

In addition, the detailed record of the North China lake helped them resolve the period into four separate impulses or events. Each event was driven by inconspicuous and powerful volcanic activity, which released huge amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The increased concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere has resulted in higher temperatures and humidity.

These periods of volcanic activity were relatively long and had a major impact on plant and animal life on earth. Without this event, dinosaurs, which at the time were just beginning to diversify, would not have evolved into the dominant species on the planet.

Additionally, in helping dinosaurs evolve, the period was also important in laying the foundation for much of the world’s ecosystems as they are seen today.

Cover image: Shutterstock


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