Paleontology

Assessing the Role of Fungus in the Extinction of Dinosaurs



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There are many questions to ask when it comes to dinosaurs and the best answers we have are educated guesses. Still, it's interesting and important that we ponder and study.

One of the theories that scientists are examining is the role of fungus in the eventual extinction of dinosaurs. It is generally accepted that the meteor that created the Chicxulub crater was the beginning of the extinction process. The earth became a shady and cool place. Researchers see fossil evidence of a fungal spike. If the world was indeed covered with a potentially pathogenic fungi, warm-blooded animals may have had a survival advantage. To date we have not determined if dinosaurs were cold blooded or warm blooded.

If indeed, dinosaurs were cold blood animals their level of activity is directly related weather. They need to be warm and active to mate, eat, and reproduce. They would have been in a state where fungi could easily attack an already declining population. This is a part of the equation when looking at fungi.

It's not just how the fungi may attack the actual dinosaur, but how it attacks the food chain as well. In a cool dark environment many kinds of fungi may have been prevalent and loss of food may have played a part in the extinction process. Do we really know how much of the dinosaur food source may have been infected by fungi? Do we really know how much plants played a part in the diet of the dinosaur? Did dinosaurs eat frogs?

Is it impossible to believe that an entire species can be brought to extinction by fungi? As it turns out that very thing is happening right now with many types of frogs. At least 170 species of frogs have become extinct in the past decade. There is a fungus that works like a parasite. It makes it hard for the frog to use their pores and they quickly die of dehydration. It has been linked to the extinction of amphibians from Australia to Coast Rica. Then again, a frog seems like a far cry from a dinosaur.

So how does is sort out? Fungi may have played a part in the extinction of dinosaurs. The climate and environment would indicate that fungi would be able to grow and thrive during that time. It certainly had some effect on the environment and can not be ruled out as a factor in the extinction of the dinosaur. Will we ever know the exact answers? Probably not, but we can examine learn and explore. The journey is important and the information we gather can make a difference in the lives we live today. Pick up a book today and read about climate change, fungi, and the dinosaurs.

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More about this author: Trenna Sue Hiler

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