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back to article Triceratops horn find supports meteor extinction theory

A team of boffins from Yale University look likely to have uncovered the world's youngest dinosaur and in the process provided support for the Alvarez hypothesis – that the dinosaurs were wiped out as a result of a massive meteor strike some 65 million years ago. Since the early 1990s, it has been generally accepted that an …

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Stop

Hang on a minute...

I thought that God put dinosaur fossils here to help strengthen our collective faith in creationism.

It all seemed so plausable :-(

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Coat

Re: Hang on a minute...

They didn't say whether the dinosaur was found clutching a Bible.

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that's 'cause

it had a Koran instead.

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Pirate

Rubbish!

It was wearing a pirate costume and clutching a plate of meatballs, the dinosaurs were extinguished by his noodliness shortly afterwards for the clear sacrilege of not including any pasta-based items in their diet.

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Joke

6000 years I tell's ya!

See, see:

" <some> 65 million years ago"

They're none too sure, is they?

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Great.....but

One hundred thousand to ten thousand years before the impact.......faily large time frame there.

It's not like the bone was embedded in the KT layer, proving that dinosaurs died out then.

In fact if the KT layer was a mass extinction event would there not be loads of dinosaur bones in that layer, not the zero we have so far found???

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Boffin

Re: Great.....but

I would surmise high atmospheric dust rich in iridium settled long after large fauna died out due to its effects, and then gradually settled later. Maybe this settling took 1000 years but certainly after everything had died. Anyway there is no reason to suspect anything is easily found in any particular thin layer of crust, finding what we do is remarkable.

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Well

Absence of Evidence isn't Evidence of Absence.

Given the unlikely events that produce a fossil in the first place, I wouldnt jump to any conclusions.

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Boffin

The way fossils occur...

Most fossils occur in areas that were rivers, or mud plains. I.e. the dinosaur gets stuck, or dies, sinks quickly to the bottom, gets covered (also quickly) in mud and hence microbes and the like are unable to have enough time to fully consume the body, taking only the flesh before the oxygen is depleted beyond the point where they can survive.Hence we get bones leftover...

Now imagine what happens to settling dust onto a river or mud plain? It would tend to float away or be absorbed into sedimentary layers. Therefore, finding well defined KT layers in areas where fossils are most likely to have been formed is a very difficult task.

I hope that helps explain why finding fossils in and around the KT layer is so difficult...

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Correction:

The HYPOTHESIS of the way fossils occurs is...

because no one has experimentally created a fossil.

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When an event occurs that exponentially increases the odds of even occuring

not finding one is at the very least evidence of a weak theory. Because statistics work that way.

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@Tom 13

Incorrect. Aside from various intentionally interned human remains and artifacts unearthed by archeologists, look up Girolamo Segato ... I'd mention Mother Shipton's Cave in Knaresborough, that that's an entirely different process ;-)

And have you never used plaster of paris to preserve animal tracks? Or crystallized ginger or citrus zest?

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Boffin

In fact no

"In fact if the KT layer was a mass extinction event would there not be loads of dinosaur bones in that layer, not the zero we have so far found???"

The idea that a mass extinction should produce a mother-load (or conversely an absence) of fossils is an easy mistake to make. All of the dinosaurs killed in an impact event had to be alive at the time of the impact. All of those dinosaurs would have died (and therefore be available for fossilization) regardless in the next few years/decades, which is still essentially instantaneous in geological terms. So no sudden burst of fossils.

Subsequent re-population of the Earth would also happen quite quickly, geologically speaking ("Nature abhors a vacuum") so no sudden decline in fossil formation either. Just a sudden shift in the fossils found.

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Headmaster

@Chris 244

"The idea that a mass extinction should produce a mother-load (or conversely an absence) of fossils is an easy mistake to make."

Isn't that 'mother lode'?

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Coat

Cannot resist

"Kid, you obviously ain't seen his mother."

Raise eyebrows, waggle cigar, grab coat, exit stage right.

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Facepalm

Give me a doctorate

An asteroid/meteor strike would have vaporised anything living, dead and fossilised.

Whatever hit the earth wouldn't have bouned off the surface, it would have destroyed the surface and below, hence nothing to find there.

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FAIL

ehm.. no

Not so,

Any meteor strike powerful enough to vaporise the entire surface of the planet would likely destroy it completely. The theory is not that the meteor strike itself caused the mass extinction, but rather the dust cloud that it ejected into the atmosphere blocked the sun and reduced the tempurature so that the plants died, and the herbavores that fed on them, and the carnivores that fed on those. That's why microbes and some other lifeforms that can survive with little food or moss / fungus managed to live through it.

It's like the 'nuclear winter' that was so much talked of during the cold war.

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@ Frostbite

A doctorate in "Creation Science" perhaps.

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Boffin

err, no

"An asteroid/meteor strike would have vaporised anything living, dead and fossilised." This turns out to not be the case. You might, just might, want to go to sites such as <http://impact.ese.ic.ac.uk/ImpactEffects/> and plug in appropriate numbers. The basic parameters of the Chicxulub strike are well-defined. See <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicxulub_Crater>

If you don't like the results that the various impact effect sites deliver, you can run the numbers yourself. Start with

esubk = 0.5 * m * v^2

where esubk is the kinetic energy of the projectile, m is its mass, and v is its impact velocity. Refine away with modifications for water impact, depth of water, type of solid surface under the water, land impact, type of land impacted, angle of impact, atmospheric effects, etc. You'll find that even a very large projectile moving at considerable velocity won't do what you said the impact in question did. Running the numbers at impact effect sites should give you a feel for the effects of a large projectile. Or not.

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Anonymous Coward

Food for thought?

The rock layers are dated by the fossils contained therein.

Fossils are dated by which rock layer they are found in.

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9

Not so

The ages of the rocks are constrained by radioisotopic dating in associated volcanic deposits.

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Facepalm

"Food for thought?"

Only if your brain is on a starvation diet.

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@Mike Richards

And also the convenient radioisotope dating of garnets found in pretty much all metamorphic rocks, not to mention the fact that sedimetary rocks can be sequenced, if not dated, by the order in which they are laid down, assuming of course that they aren't upside-down at the point at which you are looking due to geological folding, which isn't unheard of...

Oh, and broad era can be distinguished by the type of rock, for example red sandstone was only generated once the atmosphere of the planet changed from being a reducing one to an oxidising one by the release of large amounts of oxygen by photosynthesising organisms over a long period of time, so prior to that time, iron bearing rocks are of a greenish colour, not reddish, due to a lower oxidation level.

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Supports?

The only way in which this horn supports the theory is that it is yet one more data point showing no dino bones post-date the K-T layer. I would think digs at sites further from the epicenter of the strike may have a better chance of showing bones just beneath. Montana was not too distant, compared to say China -- so would its proximity to the impact make the K-Y layer less distinct?

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Paris Hilton

"so would its proximity to the impact make the K-Y layer less distinct?"

Not sure if I've heard of the K-Y layer before, sounds interesting...

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It's not proximity that's important

It's continuity.

The deposits in Montana and Wyoming extend across the KT boundary without interruption so it is possible to get a complete sequence of events.

In many other places the end of the Cretaceous is missing or very poorly defined.

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Thumb Up

Not well researched

The K-Y layer has proved a slippery customer as far as geologists are concerned, it's exact location is hard to put your finger on.

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Childcatcher

Is a new dinosaur genre movie release coming?

A lot of dinosaur stories in the media of late.

20th Century Fox perhaps.....

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Headmaster

They keep changing things

Aren't we meant to call it the K–Pg layer now?

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WTF?

K-Y Layer

A K-Y layer would have a disastrous effect. All those big beasts slipping and falling on the smaller ones and so on. Then, with so much K-Y covered by bodies, could that body layer have slowed down in relation to the spinning of the earth?

Would that effect time and if so, is that how creationists account for what only appears to be damnably old stuff?

Does K-Y dissolve bodies if left long enough and is that then the reason for lack of fossil records?

My oh my.

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Joke

<Transmission Terminated>

I’m surprised that people are still parroting this mass-extinction meteor propaganda, fortunately I’m here to let everyone know ‘what really happened™.’:

No one has any solid dates but it seems that the USA (United State of Atlantis) had, unbeknownst to them (unfortunately their intelligence agents, all three of them, were on vacation at the time the plot was hatched), managed to make itself some enemies. It was decided that in order to properly protect the good citizens of the USA, half of the population would be hired to spy on the other half.

To make a long story short, things finally escalated until a sleeper cell of the terrorist organization AlKayda (best translation: ‘convenient excuse’) managed to circumvent air safety measures and smuggled in a large quantity of Liquid Iridium Explosives.

In a matter of days the USA was completely devastated and destroyed by LIEs. A side-effect of the explosives was a massive dust cloud which was released into the atmosphere resulting in the death of many dinosaurs and other animals, however this ‘collateral damage’ was deemed to be acceptable and indeed expected.

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Facepalm

ohh 'news of the world' headlines

So dispite the scientist saying it didn't prove the theory. This didn't stop The Register from claiming it did in their headline? Yes let's make it up as we go along shall we?

Let's try to keep away from the tactics the gutter Press do?

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you have no proof -

- that any meteor contains Iridium. Assuming that you could catch one to study its composition, it is no longer a meteor. QED

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Signor-Lipps

Gould discusses the phenomenon that informs this work -- the Signor-Lipps effect -- in his essay "Dinosaurs in the haystack":

http://www.stephenjaygould.org/library/gould_dinosaurs-haystack.html

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Childcatcher

"just 13 centimetres from the KT line" ??

Come on guys. sharpen up. How do you get a distance away from a time line. Tosh, total tosh. Next you will be saying there are 200 Smoots to the pint.

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Childcatcher

Smoking gun

You know we will not find a smoking gun.

Think on this. The late Jurassic was 12m years give or take a few. In this time the number of dinosaurs living in this period would have been in the tens of billions. This has produced a few thousand skeleton fragments not even one per year for that period. And here we are looking for evidence of extinction that happened in a very turbulent 6 month period.

Realistically it is just not going to happen.

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Go

Agreed!

Even if it was a number or years (or decades) we're still looking at en extremely brief period. In addition, I've seen that some paleontologists don't think that it was JUST the meteor-- the impact was more the cherry on a cake that had been building for some time. According to these guys, the Deccan supervolcano (erupted sometime between 60 and 68 MYA so right in period) and the establishment of a land bridge between what would become Europe and North America (allowing the spread of new diseases and invasive species) had already severely stressed the overall ecosystem in a kind of "perfect storm" scenario. If there was already a dieback in effect in the time leading up to the impact, that can explain the lack of fossils (in addition to the reasons listed above).

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Mushroom

I always thought it was...

The Raptor Sapiens equivalent of the fission reactor, based on enriched iridium.

Bluepeace protested at it being built because "if anything went wrong and that reactor went supercritical it could cause a huge explosion that would raise a massive dust cloud and wipe everything out that's larger than those little scurrying mammals" ... !

Now we know.

AC, because this is classified MJ-12 ATS Omega Directive.

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