Which Ended First... The Dinosaur or the Egg?
We often imagine the end of the dinosaurs as a violent cataclysm limited to one fateful day; nearly all life on Earth wiped out by one massive asteroid impact. The truth is probably a bit more complex. The asteroid certainly brought about a lot of major changes to the planet which the dinosaurs were unable to adapt to, but new research from the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology (IVPP) at the Chinese Academy of Sciences suggests that the dinosaurs were already beginning to die out before the Chicxulub impact.
The research relied on examining hundreds of fossilized dinosaur eggs, dated to the two million years before the Cretaceous-Paleogene impact. The results showed a lack of diversity in species, indicating a decline in the number of dinosaurs living and a lessening in their evolutionary adaptability.
The primary theory attributes this decline to volcanic activity along India’s Deccan Traps. Championed by paleontologist Gerta Keller, this theory suggests volcanic discharges and the resulting environmental impact curtailed the dinosaur population.
The Deccan Traps are a massive deposit of igneous rock in India, produced by magma overflows. Keller’s theory suggests that the Traps were active before the impact, but the disruption to the planet from the asteroid caused even more lava to gush to the surface, disrupting the environment and killing off the dinosaurs.
As it turns out, Dr. Keller is a friend of Mini Museum — for our Age of Dinosaurs collection, we had the chance to visit with her and get an explanation first hand. She even graciously donated some geologic material from the Deccan Traps for our collection, which you can find in the Age of Dinosaurs museum and as a standalone specimen!