A very interesting article on the extinction of dinosaurs and other large mammals popped up recently at Newsweek.
A team of scientists from the University of Adelaide released a study in Nature Ecology & Evolution detailing new findings in the search for the fate of the now extinct beasts, technically referred to as “megafauna”. The study analyzed the bones and teeth of megafauna fossils from around the world in hopes of finding clues to their diet and development (or lack thereof).
What they discovered was that herbivorous megafauna were very likely to have suffered the loss of grasslands and other grazing lands due to “moisture increases”, perhaps brought on by melting permafrost and glaciers. The animals that were the base for the food chain starved, causing the eventual extinction of both the base and the predators who depended on them for sustenance.
From a religious standpoint what was particularly interesting about these findings is the refusal to consider that a global might have been responsible for the increase in moisture. As is well known, the Judeo-Christian tradition points to the flood of Noah’s time as the reason for the extinction of certain species. There is no real reason for the research to refer to it as a flood, but it does seem noteworthy that the word doesn’t even come up, in spite of the idea fact that it seems plausible given the speed and reach of the extinction event.
“We didn’t expect to find such clear signals of moisture increases occurring so widely across all of Europe, Siberia and the Americas,” [Alan Cooper, the project leader] says in a statement. “The timing varied between regions, but matches the collapse of glaciers and permafrost and occurs just before most species go extinct.” Because herbivore megafauna were critical to the food chain, any decline in their populations would have a ricochet effect on the rest of the ecosystem and any species within it.
So something happened to cause the rapid melting of glaciers and permafrost (a flood?) and whatever happened was closely timed with the mass extinction (could it have been a flood that just killed everything?).
Newsweek went on to update the story later.
Updated | The extinction of megafauna across the globe at the end of the last Ice Age appears to have been driven, in part, by moisture from thawing glaciers and permafrost. As moisture in the air increased, grasslands turned to bog and ecosystems collapsed, eventually causing species like the woolly mammoth, giant sloth and sabre-toothed cat to die out.
Could that moisture in the air have been rain?
Between 15,000 and 11,000 years ago, large animals—known as megafauna—across the globe disappeared. Extinctions were most pronounced across Eurasia and the Americas, in what is now Europe, Siberia and North and South America.
What caused this mass trend is unclear. These species were in contact with early humans and Neanderthals and fossil evidence shows they were killed for their meat. Some scientists believe that as humans became more successful, they hunted megafauna to extinction. However, most agree that this alone could not have led to such widespread species extinction. Rather, they believe a combination of climate change and hunting was responsible.
Is it really easier to believe that there were enough human beings with enough force to cause the extinction of an entire species of animal across the entire world in the era of the Neanderthal than to believe the “moisture increase” was actually rain? Lots and lots of rain?
This isn’t to say this is some kind of conspiracy or even that it lends valid proof to flood theory. There has been refutation within the scientific community of the Adelaide team’s research, but it does provide enough fodder to perk up the ears of religious theorists and creationists. It is interesting to think that there could actually be provable connection between the flood of the Bible and the mass extinction of so many species.