Scientists have put forth research that shows just how the dinosaurs became the dominant species on Earth. Dinosaurs' rise is linked to two separate events that include a mass extinction called the Carnian Pluvial Episode.
Events such as these made it easier for dinosaurs to ascend to the top.
Carnian Pluvial Episode
Little is known about what caused the dinosaurs to become the dominant species on Earth. Researchers from MUSE-Museum of Science Trento, Italy, the Universities of Ferrara and Padova, and the University of Bristol released a new paper in Nature Communications detailing the rise of dinosaurs. It cites the Carnian Pluvial Episode and the diversification of dinosaurs as the main causes.
The Carnian Pluvial Episode is a major event that occurred 230 million years ago. During this time, there were climates changing from dry to humid and back to dry again. There were also extinctions at that time that allowed dinosaurs to flourish.
It was caused by the eruption of the Wrangellia flood basalts. This eruption released a large amount of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which caused a period of global warming, ocean acidification, mega-monsoonal conditions, and a general increase in rainfall.
During this time, there was also a rise in extinction rates of marine animals such as crinoids, scallops, corals, ammonoids, and conodonts. It is considered one of the most severe biotic crises in the history of life.
This eruption occurred in western Canada.
Researchers used rock sequences from the Dolomites mountain range in northeast Italy, where they detected dinosaur tracks. At first, there were zero tracks, and then there was an exponential number found. This allows scientists to trace back the moment when the dinosaur population exploded.
This explosion coincided with the end of the Carnian Pluvial Episode. Scientists were able to see confirmation of climate change in the Dolomites. They detected four pulses of warming and climate disruptions within a million years, according to study coauthor Piero Gianolla.
Mike Benton, a coauthor of the study says that this discovery is significant but not only just for the dinosaurs. Benton says that during this period, other modern groups of animals such as lizards, crocodiles, turtles, and mammals emerged.
The earliest dinosaurs appear in the fossil record about 245 million years ago. During this time, dinosaurs were rare and didn't see a boom until 13 million years later, after the Carnian Pluvial Episode.