Researchers from the University of St. Andrews led a study that suggests that the combination of sulfur gases and climate cooling has contributed to the mass extinction of dinosaurs.
Experts said that sulfur gases were released into the atmosphere following the Chicxulub impact and circled the world for years which cooled the planet and led to the extinction of dinosaurs around 66 million years ago, MailOnline reported. Although the event was catastrophic for dinosaurs and other ancient life, the six-mile-wide asteroid impact in Yucatan Peninsula allowed the diversification of mammals.
Dr. Aubrey Zerkle from the University of St Andrew School of Earth and Environmental Sciences said that sulfur gases are deadly for dinosaurs but supportive for mammals. The Scotsman reported that the asteroid landed in the marine environment, which was rich in sulfur and other volatile elements. In the end, Dr. Zerkle said that “the dinosaurs were just really unlucky.”
Initially, the asteroid impact only caused rock dust, soot, and wildfires, but the sulfur gases extended for many years that would have tortured the dinosaurs from reduced sunlight, extreme cooling, and acidification of both land and sea. Study author Christopher Junium said that this extended duration likely played a central role in the severity of the mass extinction event.