07222017

Volcanoes ‘triggered dawn of dinosaurs’

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Scientists say intense eruptions took place 200 million years ago

A million-year-long period of extreme volcanic activity most likely paved the way for the dawn of the dinosaurs, a study suggests.

Scientists have analysed ancient rocks and have found traces of emissions from huge volcanic eruptions that happened about 200 million years ago.

This would have led to one of the largest mass extinctions on record, enabling dinosaurs to become dominant.

The study is published in the journal PNAS.

Lead author Lawrence Percival, from the Earth sciences department at Oxford University, said: “The dinosaurs were able to exploit those ecological niches that were left vacant by the extinction.”

Mercury rising

The researchers looked at volcanic rocks from four continents that date to this turbulent time.

A previous study assessed how levels of carbon fluctuated in the rocks, which is linked to rises of carbon dioxide from volcanic eruptions.

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