By Amina Kahn
Many scientists have long blamed a single culprit in the sudden and violent mass extinction that took out the dinosaurs: an asteroid that came screaming out of the skies some 66 million years ago. But it turns out that this asteroid may have had an accomplice.
Researchers studying ancient lava flows in present-day India have also implicated the volcanic eruptions that they say turned massively deadly around the same time that the asteroid hit – eruptions that, together with the impact, would have filled the air and covered the earth with toxic fumes and dust, driving countless species to extinction.
The findings, described in the journal Science, bind together two long-held theories about what killed off the dinosaurs (and many other species).
“This is pouring gasoline on the debate,” said Henry Melosh, a planetary scientist at Purdue University who was not involved in the paper.
The Deccan Traps in India feature layers upon layers of volcanic rock and are the long-solidified remains of one of the world’s truly enormous volcanic eruptions.
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