The Extinction of the Dinosaurs

The Extinction of the Dinosaurs

The Extinction of the Dinosaurs


Dinosaurs were extinct more than 65 million years ago, but the question on what led to their demise has led to many contemptuous debates. The number of hypotheses on dinosaur’s extinction since the discovery of dinosaur’s fossils in the 19th century is astonishing. However, in the recent past, the arrival of new research has significantly refined the understanding of dinosaur extinction. This paper aims to examine the likely explanation of dinosaur’s extinction from existing records.  The paper demonstrates why abrupt climate or atmospheric change from either bolide or asteroid impact or related change is the most likely cause of extinction. While such impact in the future is inevitable, this paper demonstrates how environmentalists and scientist can use the current understanding of extinction to improve strategies that can prevent the elimination of most vulnerable species today.

            Keywords: dinosaur’s extinction, fossils, climate change

The Extinction of the Dinosaurs


Climate change is a significant threat to global diversity. It is hard to protect the most vulnerable species from the impact of climate change even within the reserves. Also, climate change can interact with other anthropogenic impacts, which makes the change an even deadly threat to species; it can result in the complete extinction of some species. Dinosaur is one of the oldest species that went into demise approximately 65 million years ago (Brusatte et al., 2015). Pundits postulate numerous hypotheses behind the extinction; nonetheless, most recently suggesting that dinosaur extinction was geographically and abruptly caused by a terrestrial occurrence, which occurred at the Cretaceous period. However, some scientists remain skeptical that this could be the only cause of dinosaur’s extinction. Notably, many hypotheses that exist link the extinction of dinosaurs with climate change. As such, understanding the proximate cause of such extinction is essential for different reasons. Primarily, identifying the cause of dinosaur’s extinction can help scientists, environmentalist, and other stakeholders to establish better strategies for protecting species under threat of extinction. The primary focus of this paper is to use the current records to address the broad-scale question about the cause of the extinction. Ruling out the likely explanation for the extinction of dinosaur can help develop a strategy that can be used to prevent the imminent extinction of species.

Theories of Dinosaur Extinction

            Theories of dinosaur’s extinction started to appear soon after the first remains were discovered at the beginning of the nineteenth century. Scores of hypothesis and speculations have emerged since then on extinction. One hypothesis is that the dinosaurs could have starved to death or could have died from overeating (Debus, 2016). Also, there exists an argument that extinction may have been caused by a nutritional problem caused by evolving plants and flowers (Brusatte et al., 2015). Further, other interpreters assume that water might have become poisonous for the creatures to handle. Another popular ingenious twist is that the herbivores dinosaurs may have changed their eating habits, causing a complete demise of the species.

Moreover, many scientist and experts have invoked geophysical or biological causes. Some claim that a change of earth gravity may have contributed to their extinction (Elewa, 2014). Other claims that iridium anomalies in rocks could have exploded near the earth, increasing the solar proton flux which created ultraviolet radiation that attacked the dinosaurs (Elewa, 2014). Varieties of hypothesis also suggest that the component of the atmosphere changed and killed the dinosaurs. Some of the theories that have been developed over the years attribute the extinction to hormonal disorders, their inability to adapt to change, living too long, shrinking brains ability, or social problems that caused malfunction of their brains. Debus (2016) list some of the most causes as volcanic gases, sunspots, suicide, war amongst themselves, meteorites, comets, and God’s will. In essence, the number of these contending causes has led pundits to question whether the extinction of dinosaurs has a single overriding cause, or was because of multiple geophysical, biological, social, and environmental factors.

One of the most recognized theory is that dinosaur went extinct after a bolide impact on earth leading to environmental disturbance. The theory postulates that an asteroid or comet or meteoroids struck the earth, spreading fined materials into the atmosphere, which then spread around the globe (Brusatte et al., 2015). However, some scientists are still unsure of how such an impact could have led to immediate extinct of dinosaurs and no other mammals and birds. Existing data demonstrates that environmental changes whether volcanic induced or otherwise, could affect the dinosaur’s ability to survive (Brusatte et al., 2015). Given the numerous support of such theory, this paper holds that this bolide impact and related environmental change is the probable cause of the dinosaur extinction.

Evidence from Fossil Records

            One of the most significant challenges in studying extinction is the biases from the latest fossil records. Many dinosaurs’ fossils have been discovered from various part of the world. Unfortunately, only North American has a collective record of such stacked faunas. Brusatte et al. (2015) have produced numerous stratigraphically refined and quantitative data on Cretaceous dinosaurs based on fossils found in North America. The authors found a geologically instantaneous extinction associated with catastrophic agitation to the ecosystem and suggested that the morphology of crater and the direct impact with the asteroid imply that the interior of the North American has the most significant brunt impact. As such, the rate of extinction of dinosaur in this region is rampant compared to other regions. However, this hypothesis does not explain the effects on other habitats. For example, frogs did not show a decline across the boundary. Such limitation is an indication that extinction may have been a combination of various biological and geophysical factors. 

            Fossil records in North American and other parts of the world help define the extinction scenarios of the dinosaurs. North America offers critical knowledge to scientists, environmentalist, and other stakeholders about the extinction of these creatures (Brusatte et al., 2015). Current studies on the extinction of dinosaurs indicate that environmental related events such as acid rains or sharp temperature can have a significant impact on living species. The possibility of an asteroid impact is inevitable; however, scientists and environmentalists can focus on ameliorating the strategies of climatic change to prevent future extinction.  


Numerous hypotheses behind the extinction of dinosaurs are astonishing; however, the most recognized link the elimination to climate change. Given the enormous support of geophysical and environmental factor, this paper has demonstrated how bolide and asteroid and related consequences could be the most probable cause of the dinosaur’s extinction. As such, climate change or environmental alteration is a potential cause of extinction. This knowledge could help ameliorate current strategies utilized to prevent the extinction of the most vulnerable species. The extinction scenarios demonstrate the importance of investigating the issues to prevent complete extinction of important species on the planet. Even the newest studies in North American and other parts of the world with dinosaurs’ fossils remain mysterious; therefore, these studies are open to further investigation in the future.


Archibald, J. D. (2014). What the dinosaur record says about extinction scenarios. Geological Society of America Special Papers505, 213-224. https://bit.ly/2Vcbc11

Brusatte, S. L., Butler, R. J., Barrett, P. M., Carrano, M. T., Evans, D. C., Lloyd, G. T., … & Williamson, T. E. (2015). The extinction of the dinosaurs. Biological Reviews90(2), 628-642. https://ecee.colorado.edu/~ecen5009/Resources/Dinosaur/Brusatte2015.pdf

Debus, A. A. (2016). Dinosaurs Ever Evolving- The Changing Face of Prehistoric Animals in Popular Culture. North Carolina: McFarland & Company Ltd.  https://bit.ly/2Do4gEb

Elewa, A. M. (2014). Causes of mass extinctions—with special reference to the vanishing of dinosaurs. Greener Journal of Physical Sciences4(2), 13-21. https://bit.ly/2PlAZi6


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