I’m always amazed by scientists who can figure out things that happened a bazillion years ago. With a bone here and a fossilized dung particle there they are able to piece together complete life cycles and characteristics of things that roamed the earth even before Twitter came along.
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Most believe (as I did) that the extinction of the dinosaur was a quick process from a cataclysmic event. The truth is that it took many, perhaps millions of years for them to fully die off.
Poniar is quoted;
An impact scenario should have led to an abrupt extinction, and volcanism-induced climate change would probably also have wiped them out in a relatively short time.
On the other hand, emerging new diseases spread by biting insects, combined with the spread of flowering plants, and competition with insects for plant resources, was “perfectly compatible” with a lengthy process of extinction.
Biting insects, nematodes and other disease carrying bugs could have dealt a direct blow to the dinosaurs while large populations of plant eating insects may have wiped out huge supplies of plants. The herbivores then would be reduced and in turn the meat eaters would have less to eat as well.
The evidence to back up these claims are found in fossils of dinosaur dung and amber. Although we might think it impossible for a prehistoric mosquito to penetrate the thick skin of a Triceratops, the skin in between the scales may have been vulnerable and soft. Any disease the insect carried could have been transmitted and the prehistoric animals had no built up immunities to this new threat.
Nature is filled with checks and balances but perhaps this is an example of things getting out of whack. Insects can proliferate with amazing speed and if nothing is there to hinder them they’ll devour everything in their path regardless of size and even to their own detriment.
Maybe now would be a good time to ‘thank’ your friendly pest control technician and give him a pat on the back. Who knows, if we had been around back then you might have a couple of Raptors in the back yard right now and flea dipping might have a whole other meaning.