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Princeton geoscientist offers new evidence that meteorite did not wipe out dinosaurs
Date:5/4/2009

ent in the layer above it, indicating that the impact has not had the devasting biotic effect on species diversity as has been suggested. "Not a single species went extinct as a result of the Chicxulub impact," Keller said.

In contrast, she noted, at a nearby site known as La Sierrita where the K-T boundary, iridium anomaly and mass extinction are recorded, 31 out of 44 species disappeared from the fossil record at the K-T boundary.

"Keller and colleagues continue to amass detailed stratigraphic information supporting new thinking about the Chicxulub impact and the mass extinction at the end of the Cretaceous," said Richard Lane, program director in the National Science Foundation's division of earth sciences, which funded the research. "The two may not be linked after all."

Keller suggests that the massive volcanic eruptions at the Deccan Traps in India may be responsible for the extinction, releasing massive amounts of dust and gases that could have blocked sunlight, altered climate and caused acid rain. The fact that the Chicxulub impact seems to have had no effect on biota, she said, despite its 6-mile-in-diameter size, indicates that even large asteroid impacts may not be as deadly as imagined.

She regards the latest evidence as sufficiently convincing and compelling to allow her to move on and investigate further the evidence for Deccan volcanism as being at the root of dinosaur extinction. But she does not expect her teams' present work will stop the raging debate at the heart of this controversy.

"The decades-old controversy over the cause of the K-T mass extinction will never achieve consensus," Keller said. But consensus, she added, is not a precondition to advancing science and unraveling truth. "What is necessary is careful documentation of results that are reproducible and verifiable," she said.


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Contact: Kitta MacPherson
kittamac@princeton.edu
609-258-5729
Princeton University
Source:Eurekalert  

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