Dinosaurs might have survived the catastrophic impact that ended their reign had the devastating asteroid that slammed into the Earth arrived at a “more convenient time,” a scientist has claimed. As a result humans would probably not exist.
The violent collision 66 million years ago, which occurred in the area that is now Mexico, triggered tsunamis across the oceans, caused powerful earthquakes and released enough heat to start many fires.
Material thrown into the air descended as acid rain, and also blocked the sun’s warmth, cooling the Earth temporarily, perhaps by tens of degrees Celsius.
A thick blanket of dust that was thrown up darkened the globe.
The devastation wrought by the impact almost certainly explains the sudden death of the land-based dinosaurs, according to fresh analysis of the latest data.
However, one scientist on the team said the beasts might have prevailed had the asteroid struck earlier or later than it did.
Steve Brusatte, a paleontologist at Edinburgh University, was in an international team of researchers who reviewed the evidence on dinosaur extinction.
The group looked at work done on prehistoric climate and temperatures, changes in sea levels, volcanic activity and biodiversity, before reaching a consensus that the asteroid was the prime culprit.
“The asteroid almost certainly did it, but it just so happened to hit at a bad time when dinosaur ecosystems had been weakened by a loss of diversity,” Brusatte said. “If the asteroid had hit a few million years earlier, or a few million years later, then dinosaurs probably wouldn’t have gone extinct.”
The scientists’ report, published in Biological Reviews, found that while, largely, the dinosaurs were faring well at the time of the asteroid impact, the big plant-eating types, including the horned triceratops and duck-billed dinosaurs, had suffered a loss of biodiversity. There were fewer animals at the bottom of the food chain.
“The decline made those ecosystems at the very end of the Cretaceous [period], when the asteroid hit, considerably more vulnerable to collapse than those ecosystems that existed even a few million years before,” Brusatte said.
Dinosaur biodiversity rose and fell throughout their time on Earth over 150 million years.
Brusatte said he suspected that given a few million years more the large plant-eaters would have recovered, making the ecosystem more robust.
The asteroid, which was about 9.65km across, struck the Yucatan Peninsula and left a crater, the Chicxulub, measuring 19km deep by 199.5km wide.
The collision wiped out about 80 percent of the Earth’s species, though some dinosaurs survived to become the direct ancestors of birds.
“If the asteroid didn’t hit, I have no reason to believe they’d have gone extinct. And if dinosaurs didn’t go extinct, then mammals would have never had their opportunity to blossom. So if it wasn’t for that asteroid, then humans probably wouldn’t be here,” Brusatte said.
A senior UN official has said he is “alarmed” that a peaceful Australian climate protester has been jailed for 15 months — and refused bail before her appeal — amid global outrage at her “disproportionate” punishment. On Friday, Deanna “Violet” Coco was sentenced to 15 months in prison for blocking a single lane of traffic on the Sydney Harbour Bridge in April in a protest staged to draw attention to the global climate emergency. “I am alarmed at a NSW court’s prison term against climate protestor Deanna Coco and refusal to grant bail until a March 2023 appeal hearing, ” UN Special
SECOND ATTEMPT: An overhaul of the criminal code is expected this month, after a similar move was in 2019 stymied by large-scale protests in the Muslim-majority country The Indonesian parliament is this month expected to pass a new criminal code that would penalize sex outside marriage with a punishment of up to one year in jail, officials have said. The legislative overhaul would also ban insulting the Indonesian president or state institutions, and expressing any views counter to the country’s state ideology. Cohabitation before marriage is also banned. Decades in the making, the new criminal code is expected to be passed on Dec. 15, Indonesian Deputy Minister of Justice Edward Omar Sharif Hiariej said. “We’re proud to have a criminal code that’s in line with Indonesian values,” he told Reuters
CARROT-AND-STICK: Authorities tightened control over virtual private networks, which protesters used to access banned non-Chinese news and social media apps Chinese authorities have initiated the highest “emergency response” level of censorship, according to leaked directives, including a crackdown on virtual private networks (VPNs) and other methods of bypassing online censorship after unprecedented protests demonstrated widespread public frustration with the “zero COVID” policy. The crackdown, including the tracking and questioning of protesters, comes alongside the easing of pandemic restrictions in an apparent carrot-and-stick approach to an outpouring of public grievances. During an extraordinary week in China, protests against “zero COVID” restrictions included criticism of the authoritarian rule of Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) — which was further highlighted by the death of
EASING RESTRICTIONS: China has not approved any foreign COVID-19 vaccines and is opting for those produced domestically, the US Director of National Intelligence said Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) is unwilling to accept Western vaccines despite the challenges China is facing with COVID-19, and recent protests could affect his personal standing in the Chinese Communist Party, US Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines said on Saturday. Although China’s daily COVID-19 cases are near all-time highs, some cities are taking steps to loosen testing and quarantine rules after Xi’s “zero COVID” policy triggered a sharp economic slowdown and public unrest. Despite the social and economic impact of the virus, Xi “is unwilling to take a better vaccine from the West, and is instead relying on a vaccine