The dinosaurs were wiped out by an asteroid and not by a super-volcano explosion, scientists have claimed.

A debate has been raging recently among experts who believe a space rock killed off the dinos and those who think volcanic activity sent them into extinction.

Now it’s been claimed that huge eruptions in an area of India now called the Deccan Traps took place ‘well before’ the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction event 66 million years ago – which is the scientific name for the disaster which did for the dinosaurs.

Pincelli Hull, assistant professor of geology and geophysics at Yale, said: ‘Volcanoes can drive mass extinctions because they release lots of gases, like SO2 and CO2, that can alter the climate and acidify the world.

‘But recent work has focused on the timing of lava eruption rather than gas release.’



She found that volcanos did cause Earth to heat up, but this was not responsible for the cataclysm.

‘Volcanic activity in the late Cretaceous caused a gradual global warming event of about two degrees, but not mass extinction,’ said former Yale researcher Michael Henehan, who compiled the temperature records for the study.

‘A number of species moved toward the North and South poles but moved back well before the asteroid impact.

‘A lot of people have speculated that volcanoes mattered to the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction event, and we’re saying: “No, they didn’t.”‘

In a separate study released last year, scientists said huge volcanic eruptions contaminated the planet with deadly mercury before the space rock hit Earth – meaning the dinos were hit by a double whammy which destroyed them.

A team from the University of Michigan analysed fossiled marine mollusc shells and found increased mercury levels.

It’s believed this dangerous substance was produced during the creation of the Deccan Traps – a massive volcanic formation in India.

These eruptions began before the impact and lasted ‘on and off’ for a million years.

The mollusc shells showed the same level of mercury pollution as modern clam shells collected in sites of industrial pollution in Virginia.

‘For the first time, we can provide insights into the distinct climatic and environmental impacts of Deccan Traps volcanism by analyzing a single material,’ said Kyle Meyer, lead author of the new study.

‘It was incredibly surprising to see that the exact same samples where marine temperatures showed an abrupt warming signal also exhibited the highest mercury concentrations and that these concentrations were of similar magnitude to a site of significant modern industrial mercury contamination.’



Mercury is a toxic trace metal that ‘poses a health threat to humans, fish and wildlife’.

Today, it’s generated by coal-fired power plants and gold mines.

At Virginia’s South River, where the researchers collected freshwater clamshells, there are signs which warn residents not to eat fish from the river.

‘The modern site has a fishing ban for humans because of high mercury levels. So, imagine the environmental impact of having this level of mercury contamination globally for tens to hundreds of thousands of years,’ said geochemist and study co-author Sierra Petersen, who was Meyer’s co-adviser.

The Deccan Traps eruptions formed much of western India and were centred around the time of the Cretaceous-Paleogene (K-Pg) mass extinction, which took place 66 million years ago and spelt doom for the dinos.