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Bob Strauss

Did Dinosaurs Survive the K/T Impact Event?

By April 28, 2009

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Want to drive the popular press into a Jurassic feeding frenzy? Just publish a paper stating that dinosaurs didn't go fully extinct until 300,000 years after the K/T meteor impact, 65 million years ago. If you haven't heard already, that's exactly what a joint team from Princeton University and the University of Lausanne in Switzerland has done. Based on an analysis of Mexican fossils (found near the K/T crater on the Yucatan peninsula), one scientist has been quoted as saying that "not a single species went extinct as a result of the Chicxulub impact."

Well, so what? It's only on TV shows (like Animal Planet's "Animal Armageddon: Doomsday") that the K/T meteor is depicted as wiping out the dinosaurs literally overnight. The fact is, 300,000 years is a heartbeat in geological terms; one can easily imagine dinosaur populations slowly dwindling, and perishing, over that stretch of time, thinned out by climate change and lack of food. If the Princeton/Lausanne team had claimed dinosaur survivors 10 million years after the impact, that would be a newsworthy story--but as things stand, I'm not very impressed.

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