Patrice Ayme's Thoughts



In a nutshell: Contrarily to what is conveniently believed in the USA, the extinction of the dinosaurs was probably NOT caused by a giant impact from an asteroid, or comet. The impact was NOT explosive enough, not poisonous enough, nor cooling enough.

What killed the dinosaurs was super giant volcanism, a type that happens every 200 million years or so, the SUPER TRAPS. Super Traps correspond to catastrophic Earth core cooling events: giant burps from Vulcan itself. The most extravagant violence of the Deccan Super Traps 65 million years ago, happened within 300,000 years of the Yucatan impact (a sheer coincidence, as we will see). The fabulous extinction of 250 million years ago was caused by the even more giganticSiberian Super Traps, and so on.

Super Traps offer a convenient model for the present greenhouse catastrophe. CARBON BURNINGBEHAVES LIKE…

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3 replies

  1. Dear Picard: Thanks for re-blogging this essay. This is a fascinating subject. It is alive and well as a mystery. Many years after writing the essay, I became friends with a top paleoanthropologist who, among the many honors which grace him, is the top research article selector at Science Magazine in paleontology. So he is front and center in the disappearance of dinosaurs question. He believes in the impact, but he is very open minded, and takes my objections seriously.

    Maybe I should write a follow-up article. I have been waiting for results from the core made at the Chicxulub crater in 2016.

    The Deccan Traps is not a super-volcano like Yellowstone, or Hawai’i, or the Canaries… Although it does act like one at this point, forming an island chain, the Macarenes (Maurice and La Reunion, among others). When it formed Traps, it was erupting as what I call a “CORE ERUPTION”. In cases like that, a huge blob of heat goes up from the core. It’s what caused the Permian-Trias super mass extinction.

    Basically my position is unchanged: severe climate cooling and noxious effects due to hyper-volcanism did the dinosaurs in.

    The chronological coincidence between the Deccan Traps and the Chicxulub impact is astounding. But the Deccan Traps started first, by millions of years. The eruptions became more intense just before the impact. (An open question is whether there were mass extinctions, just before the impact; research just published said no, the scientists who found differently before were wrong!) That the impact would have accelerated the activity at the Traps is cute, But that could not have been more than marginal, and a question of days of increased eruptive activity. However, in an already desperate situation, that increase could have made a difference. All the more as the impact itself would have caused fires and the proverbial nuclear-like winter.

    In other words, the impact could have been the proverbial straw breaking the proverbial camel’s back. In a nutshell, this is where I am at.

    Overall, the climate cooled down very fast, and a succession of near-extinction events happened, related to the Deccan Traps, and then there was this asteroid/comet.

    In that situation my EXPONENTIAL LARGE SPECIES EXTINCTION FROM NEAR-EXTINCTION SITUATIONS theory comes into play. Especially as mammals were around in force to eat remaining dinosaurs eggs, etc…

    My extinction theory is found inside the essay:
    It does not just apply to Neanderthals and Dinosaurs. (BTW, both of these had only partial extinctions: Neanderthals survive through us, part genetically, and massively, culturally; Birds are mostly flying dinosaurs.)

    • I would argue that most mass extinctions have very close relationship to John Boyd’s OODA loop – albeit biological one. Species can adapt to and survive a global catastrophe, but as saying goes, misfortune never comes alone. Even if one mega-disaster might be survivable, such a disaster often causes a chain reaction of other disasters, which serves to break the proverbial camel’s back.

      • Dinosaurs were “mesotherms”. They could not take cooling (or, at least cooling with mammals around). The Earth’s surface was in pronounced cooling at the time, from a long episode of very warm temperatures during which time the mammals had been very disadvantaged. The Permian-Trias extinction was also accompanied by an even more drastic cooling (although temperatures were much higher than now).

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