Dinosaurs Threatened Before Asteroid Struck
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SCIENTISTS BELIEVE DINOSAURS UNDER THREAT BEFORE ASTEROID STRUCK
Monday, August 12, 2002
Climate change may have begun killing North American dinosaurs even before
an asteroid finished the job.
Researchers in southern Alberta suggest more than half the dinosaurs that
flourished in the area had fallen victim to gradually cooling temperatures
by the late Cretaceous period.
The study began last summer after researchers surveying a fossil bed in the
Drumheller Valley realised many creatures and plant life had vanished over
several million years.
David Eberth, curator of sedimentary geology at the Royal Tyrrell Museum of
Paleontology in Drumheller, said: "It's telling us that dinosaur communities
were under stress, at least in the northern reaches of North America, well
before the asteroid impact.
"What we believe we have is the first solid evidence that there was a
decline in dinosaur communities prior to the asteroid impact that was the
final death knell for all of the dinosaurs."
The Calgary Herald reports the data is being compiled and will be submitted
for publication within the year.
Researchers expect to have solid results by the end of the summer, but the
project will continue for another two years.
Eberth says the geographic layers in Alberta's Badlands make it the perfect
place for the investigation.
"There are very, very few places on the planet where you can go to see a
continuous record back from the extinction event," he said.
By checking oxygen isotopes in the tooth enamel of meat-eating dinosaurs,
researchers have found temperatures in Alberta dropped from about 25 C to 15
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