Personal Musings

This blog is intended to be just a jumble of thoughts that hit me and need not necessarily mean anything.

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Location: Kerala, India

Water flows ...

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Reflection on the fall of Dinasaurs

Once upon a time, the dinosaurs ruled the world. It might even be said the dinosaurs were the world. I am not discounting the insects and other basic mammalians that might have been alive during that time. But, all the major life forces were dinosaurs. Some were leaf-eaters, some others fruit-eaters, some stuck to meat, while some others gobbled up everything. But, what happened to them? Now, all we are left with are a few lizards and crocodilians.

Celestial cause

Some people consider that the larger earthlings perished due to act of God. It is believed that a huge meteorite crashed onto Earth and wiped out the dinosaurs. May good Lord be praised for not killing the small mammals! This is a bit confusing: if a meteorite killed a big dinosaur, then why didn't it kill the small mammals as well? Now, this is not the real interesting question. In the land of big lizards, there were smaller ones too. We see snakes, crocodiles and other "old" dinosaurs even today. So, why didn't the meteorite kill the small dinosaurs as well?

It's commonly argued that the mammals survived because of their small size. They were able to hide in small, safer crevices; and that's why they survived. This line of argument looks like the biggest fallacy out there.

A meteorite impact is actually a very local affair. Of course, there are those who argue that a meteor impact does more damage than meets the eye. A large enough meteorite impact might result in large shock waves, leading to massive "earthquake". These shock waves may trigger volcanoes, earthquakes elsewhere. A meteorite falling on an ocean might result in massive tsunami. The meteorite on impact night spew out molten rocks leading to extra damage. Then there is the ash cloud that can block sunlight. There is the heat generated during impact itself.... The list can go on, but so what! There is still one problem with this line on destruction.

If there is a real wipe out, say by the large amount of molten rock falling back to Earth, they are going to fall back in the nearby region. The rock can't fall back on the other side of Earth. The immense heat generated will not only burn the large organisms but also the smaller ones. Whether a large animal or a small animal is subjected to high temperature, both are going to get fried. Heat is not biased against reptiles or plants or insects(don't forget about these older living things) or mammals. Maybe a hornet may get fried at a 47 degrees and a honey bee at 60 degrees; but if a molten rock is going to fall on them, both are going to die.

Let us assume for an instant that the mammals saved their skin because they went underground. A tunnel is not really a safe place during an earthquake. The walls of the tunnel are bound to collapse if the shock wave is large. Then there is the problem of the overheated air above. Hot air will rise and nearby air will take its place. Most of the tunnels build have a natural way of circulating air, otherwise there will be CO2 built-up. If tunnels were built with holes, hot air will enter the safe places where the animal was sitting. Also, how long are these small animals going to survive without eating any food. Food is one thing, what about water. When the temperature rises, these animals who aren't evolved to live under such circumstances are going to dehydrate. At high temperature, water is going to evaporate. Those who live in hot climates know that animals cant hydrate by drinking hot water.Eventually their body temperature will rise and they will get boiled.

In short, looking at the skies is never going to convince anyone on why the dinosaurs perished.

(to be continued)