News in Brief
The asteroid collision that may have doomed the dinosaurs 66 million years ago really stank. A new analysis of gases released from vaporized rocks at the impact site in modern-day Mexico suggests that the smashup released up to three times more smelly, climate-cooling sulfur than previously believed.
The Chicxulub impact spewed about 325 billion tons of sulfur and 425 billion tons of...
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Rise of the NecrofaunaBritt WrayGreystone Books, $26.95
A theme park populated with re-created dinosaurs is fiction. But if a handful of dedicated scientists have their way, a park with woolly mammoths, passenger pigeons and other “de-extincted” animals could become reality.
In Rise of the Necrofauna, writer and radio broadcaster Britt Wray presents a comprehensive look...
Some dinosaurs liked to cheat on their vegetarian diet.
Based on the shape of their teeth and jaws, large plant-eating dinosaurs are generally thought to have been exclusively herbivorous. But for one group of dinosaurs, roughly 75-million-year-old poop tells another story. Their fossilized droppings, or coprolites, contained tiny fragments of mollusk and other crustacean shells along...
It won’t be a tsunami. Nor an earthquake. Not even the crushing impact of the space rock. No, if an asteroid kills you, gusting winds and shock waves from falling and exploding space rocks will most likely be to blame. That’s one of the conclusions of a recent computer simulation effort that investigated the fatality risks of more than a million possible asteroid impacts.
In one extreme...
Most visitors to a large natural history museum don’t know it, but they are only scratching the surface of the museum’s holdings, even if they check out every exhibition. Most of the scientific treasures are tucked away in collection rooms filled with millions of specimens, which scientists use in their research.
The Field Museum in Chicago, home to Sue, the famous T. rex, is displaying...
A prehistoric marine reptile may have given birth to its young alive.
A fossil from South China may be the first evidence of live birth in the animal group Archosauromorpha, scientists report February 14 in Nature Communications. Today Archosauromorpha is represented by birds and crocodiles — which both lay eggs.
Whether this fossil really is the first evidence of live birth in...
Not one but two rising plumes of magma from deep within the Earth fueled the titanic volcanic eruptions that marked the final days of the dinosaurs, new research suggests. The Deccan eruptions in what is now India, some scientists argue, helped wipe out most animal and plant species around 66 million years ago, including all nonbirdlike dinosaurs.
The geologic source of that volcanism...
Life on Earth has survived at least five major extinction events, but it is the dinosaurs’ mass die-off that most captures our imagination. It appears to have been a dramatic one, as Thomas Sumner writes in "Devastation detectives try to solve dinosaur disappearance" (SN: 2/4/17, p. 16). A fiery asteroid impact carved out a chunk of what’s now below the Caribbean Sea, killing many...01/25/2017 - 15:06 Animals, Paleontology, Evolution
For dinosaurs, the end of the world began in fire.
The space rock that stamped a Vermont-sized crater into the Earth 66 million years ago packed a powerful punch. Any animal living within about a thousand miles of the impact zone was probably vaporized, says paleontologist Stephen Brusatte of the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.
“Everything would have been toast.”
The asteroid strike (or was it the roiling volcanoes?) that triggered dino doomsday 66 million years ago also brought an avian apocalypse. Birds had evolved by then, but only some had what it took to survive.
Biologists now generally accept birds as a kind of dinosaur, just as people are a kind of mammal. Much of what we think of as birdlike traits — bipedal stance, feathers, wishbones...