What Killed The Dinosaurs?: The Great Mystery

John Hutchinson, Stanford University

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This site presents theories about why the dinosaurs became extinct. The first page provides background information covering not only the "great dying" at the K-T boundary but also the mass extinction at the end of the Paleozoic Era. The author covers six factors that complicate the study of mass extinction including time resolution, the Signor-Lipps Effect, and falsifiability. A link then takes the reader to a second page where invalid extinction hypotheses are explained. These range from "hay fever killed the dinosaurs" to "the dinosaurs just faded away," (no causation implied). The final link leads us to current thinking about extinction including volcanism, plate tectonics, and the Alvarez Hypothesis.

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Subject: Biology, Geoscience:Geology, Atmospheric Science:Climatology
Resource Type: Scientific Resources:Overview/Reference Work
Grade Level: High School (9-12), College Lower (13-14), Middle (6-8), Informal
Focus on the Cretaceous: Paleontology, Tectonics
Theme: Teach the Earth:Course Topics:Atmospheric Science, Teach the Earth:Incorporating Societal Issues:Climate ChangeKeywords: shocked quartz, periodicity, Oort cloud, Deccan traps, nuclear winter, greenhouse effect, fern spike