Welsh beach could reveal why dinosaur mass extinction happened 200m years ago

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The secrets behind a dinosaur mass extinction 200 million years ago may lie on a beach near Barry Island – home of television’s Gavin and Stacey, scientists believe. 

An international team of scientists descended on Lavernock beach,near Barry Island, because the cliffs are thought to hold clues to the first dinosaur mass extinction

An international team have descended on Lavernock beach, near the famous area of south Wales, to analyse segments of rock will may hold the clue to the early days of the species. 

The mass extinction led to the emergence giant herbivores, velociraptors and tyrannosaurs. 

It came around 135 million years before the better-known second major natural event which wiped out the species altogether. 

By analysing samples of shale and limestone on the cliffs at Barry Island, scientists hope to give an accurate date for a meteorite impact. 

The samples of rock, piled layer upon layer, help to provide a unique insight into the major natural world events. 

Mass extinction: The Guanlong wucaii – one of the earliest known tyrannosaurs – was one of the dinosaurs to emerge 200million years ago after a meteor is thought to have hit the Earth

Scientists believe it is most likely that a meteor strike hit the earth killing off many dinosaurs before volcanic ash finished them off. 

Professor Paul Olsen, a paleontologist from Columbia University, New York, told The Times: ‘We’ve come here because we’re interested in the exact sequence of events that lead to dinosaur extinction.’ 

The dominant dinosaurs of the era which lived on Pangaea, the Earth’s only land mass at the time, were wiped out. 

Only half the species remained on land, and around one in five of those in the sea were also wiped out. 

The largest of the species from the Triassic period were around the size of a cow. The dominant species were monkey lizards or Simiosauria. 

Afterwards, much bigger dinosaurs emerged across the world. 

The beaches near Barry Island are of interest to scientists because the limestone layers will have recorded the impact of the meteorite and surges in volcanic activity. 

As Pangaea broke into continents which are recognisable to us today there would have been an increase in lava flow. 

Source: Daily Mail Online [May 14, 2011]

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