Mystery behind dinosaurs absence near equator unveiled

Washington : The absence of dinosaurs at low latitudes has been one of the greatest unanswered questions about, but now, this mystery seems now on its way to being resolved. According to scientists from University of Utah, who pieced together a detailed picture of the climate and ecology more than 200 million years ago at Ghost Ranch in northern New Mexico, a site rich with fossils, claim that they can tell the reason behind why dinosaurs remained inexplicably rare near the equator, where only a few small-bodied meat-eating dinosaurs made a living.

The research shows that the tropical climate swung wildly, with extremes of drought and intense heat. Wildfires swept across arid landscapes and reshaped the vegetation available for these plant-eating animals. Scientist Randall Irmis said that their data suggests it was not a fun place to be for these creatures of yore, as it was a time of climate extremes that went back and forth unpredictably. He added that large, warm-blooded dinosaurian herbivores weren’t able to exist close to the equator–there was not enough dependable plant food. Claiming that the atmospheric carbon dioxide levels were then four to six times than current levels, the researchers said that if they continue along their present course, similar conditions in a high-CO2 world may develop and suppress low-latitude ecosystems.

Director Rich Lane said that the scientists have developed a new explanation for the perplexing near-absence of dinosaurs in late Triassic equatorial settings. He added that this includes rapid vegetation changes related to climate fluctuations between arid and moist climates and the resulting extensive wildfires of the time. The findings are published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

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