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Meteorites wiped out dinosaurs in Gujarat

Scientists believe that the devastating impact of a large number of meteorites caused the extinction of dinosaurs.

india Updated: Aug 09, 2006 15:17 IST

The pieces of meteorite that fell in Western parts of Gujarat a few days back caused little damage. But they most probably contributed to the extinction of dinosaurs from the earth 65 million years ago.

Several parts of Gujarat can be regarded as the Jurassic Park of India where hundreds of dinosaurs of different size and shapes used to roam freely as indicated by the large number of fossilised dinosaur eggs that are found in this region.

Scientists believe that it was mainly the devastating impact of a large number of meteorites hitting the earth that caused the extinction of the dinosaurs.

"Traces of iridium, which are found in the area where the dinosaur fossils have been found, gives credence to the theory that dinosaurs must have been wiped out because of huge meteorite impacts which must have occurred 65 million years ago", said Deputy Director General of Geological Survey of India (Western Region) Dr RS Goyal.

Though there is no conclusive evidence to show that it was meteorite impact which caused extinction of dinosaurs, scientists infer this from the fact that large quantities of iridium are found in the layers of the earth where dinosaurs are usually found. This is because iridium is a rare element that is primarily in the meteorites, Goyal added.

Explaining how dinosaurs vanished from the earth, Goyal said scientists believe that 65 milion years ago there were heavy showers of meteorite on the earth. This showers lasted for several days.

The showers were so awesome that it kicked up a large amount of dust and smoke laced with iridium, a highly toxic element.

The toxic dust and smoke was so intense that it covered the whole stratosphere blocking the total sunlight. This prevented the photosynthesis-the process by which plants take nourishment using solar energy. As a result the plants withered and died.

The herbivorous animals, which needed plants for their survival, died and consequently the carnivorous animals including large dinosaurs, which preyed on herbivorous animals also died. As a result, dinosaurs all over the world, including Gujarat died, he added.

"Traces of iridium are found in the soil just above the soil layer where dinosaurs have been found. In Viri village in Anjar District, where we have found several dinosaur fossils, we have found considerable traces of iridium indicating the coorelation between meteorites and the extinction of dinosaurs," Pande added.

The meteoric showers are also believed to have caused other techtonic upheavals like volcanic eruptions which have also contributed to the extinction of dinosaurs, says Pande.

First Published: Aug 09, 2006 15:17 IST