We may finally have an answer to what killed dinosaurs

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We May Finally Have An Answer To What Killed Dinosaurs


The debate over what killed the dinosaurs, while thankfully giving rise to many Hollywood blockbusters, has often seemed intractable.

Scientists just couldn't agree on whether it was volcanoes or an asteroid impact that killed nearly three-quarters of the world's plant and animal life—but maybe both theories are right.

Researchers from UC Berkeley believe they worked in tandem to kill the dinosaurs; that the asteroid or comet impact intensified already happening—and maybe even ignited new—volcanic eruptions worldwide.

Writing in the journal Science, geologists determined the Deccan Traps lava flows in India doubled the amount of lava they produced within 50,000 years of the impact in Mexico—the one many attribute to ushering in the mass extinction event.

It's possible the Mexican impact could have resulted in something akin to a magnitude 11 earthquake. Even a magnitude 9 earthquake would have likely been felt across the globe.

According to the researchers, such an impact would have been so severe that it would have redirected volcanic flows along with changing their chemical content.

This would have likely produced a noxious and dusty aura around the Earth—inhibiting the recovery of ecosystems for around half a million years—until the volcanoes simmered down.

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We may finally have an answer to what killed dinosaurs
Fossil of a short-tailed pterosaur, a flying reptile, Pterodactylus kochi, Upper Jurassic Solnhofen limestone, Eichstaett, Germany, Photographed under controlled conditions (Specimen courtesy of Raimund Albersdoerfer, Germany), (Photo by Wild Horizons/UIG via Getty Images)
Fossil of a short-tailed pterosaur, a flying reptile, Pterodactylus kochi, Upper Jurassic Solnhofen limestone, Solnhofen, Bavaria, Germany, Photographed under controlled conditions (Specimen courtesy of Raimund Albersdoerfer, Germany), (Photo by Wild Horizons/UIG via Getty Images)
CANADA - OCTOBER 30: The spiked skull of a Styracosaurus, Toronto, Canada (Photo by Ira Block/National Geographic/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 09: A Hyolith from the Cambrian has an armored shell body, Museum of Natural History, Washington, District of Columbia (Photo by O. Louis Mazzatenta/National Geographic/Getty Images)
CANADA - MAY 30: The skull and crest of a Parasaurolophus, Toronto, Canada (Photo by Ira Block/National Geographic/Getty Images)
UNSPECIFIED - MARCH 23: Struthiomimus dinosaur hunting a dragonfly (Struthiomimus altus) (Photo by De Agostini Picture Library/De Agostini/Getty Images)
UNSPECIFIED - MARCH 23: Side profile of an aellosaurus walking (Photo by De Agostini Picture Library/De Agostini/Getty Images)
06/09/98 - Location- Smithsonian Natural History Museum caption- Nathan Myhrvold has some interesting theories on the evolution, disappearance of dinosaurs. His models have been created on computer. His day job is Chief Technical Officer of Microsoft. Rear is the Diplodocus that has the long tail with the fused sections in all the tails, leading Myhrvold to the belief that the dinosaur cracked its tail like a whip, the end section moving near the speed of sound. - Photo By Craig Herndon TWP (Photo by Craig Herndon/The Washington Post/Getty Images)
Dr Adam Yates, from the Bernard Price Institute for Paleontological Research, looks at the 'Aardonyx Celestae', a newly discovered fossil skeleton in Johannesburg on November 11, 2009. South African palaeontologists announced the discovery of a new species of 'transition' dinosaur that straddles the divide between the four-legged giant plant-eating sauropods and their bipedal carnivorous predecessors. The dinosaur roamed the area between 183 million and 200 million years ago, measured between 7 and 9 metres long. The specimen was a juvenile, which was aged between 7 and 10 years. The Aardonyx Celestae, as the new dinosaur has been named, was discovered on a farm in central Free State province in the Karoo Basin, an area rich in fossils. AFP PHOTO / ALEXANDER JOE (Photo credit should read ALEXANDER JOE/AFP/Getty Images)
UNDATED - In this handout provided by the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, an artist's redering depicts a previously unknown bird-like dinosaur that was formally introduced to the scientific community by scientists with the Smithsonians National Museum of Natural History, the Carnegie Museum of Natural History and the University of Utah March 19, 2014. Dubbed Anzu wyliei, referring both to a mythological feathered demon and the name of a Carnegie museum trustee's grandson, the seven-foot-tall creature weighed about 500 pounds when it roamed western North America 66 to 68 million years ago. (Illustration by Mark Klingler/Carnegie Museum of Natural History via Getty Images)
UNSPECIFIED - CIRCA 2003: Reconstruction of the flora and fauna of a marshy environment from the Jurassic Period, drawing. (Photo by DeAgostini/Getty Images)
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