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66 million years ago, the dinosaurs disappeared in a crime that is still unsolved to this day. The culprits are many but scientists haven’t been able to identify the killer for sure. Come and join us for the Pint of Science and discover the secrets of this cold case, who are the potential killers and how new techniques in the big data era might help palaeontologists finally solve this ancient mystery.
When, and why, did it all go wrong for the dinosaurs?
Professor Paul Upchurch (Professor of Palaeobiology)
All dinosaurs apart from their descendants, birds, died out 66 million years ago. This event was part of a wider mass extinction at the end of the Cretaceous Period which witnessed the loss of around 75% of species. Despite some recent claims that dinosaurs declined in diversity over tens of millions of years leading up to this event, most palaeobiologists believe that their extinction was sudden. A meteorite impact and volcanism are potential causes, and have been viewed as competing ideas. But these two physical events might have interacted to bring about ecosystem collapse.
Dinosaur World: Fallen Kingdom
Before a global catastrophe wiped them out, leaving birds as their sole living representatives, dinosaurs dominated the planet for 150 million years. Their extinction, 66 million years ago, is one of the great unsolved mysteries of science. The search for a culprit of this geologic crime has obsessed palaeontologists for decades, with potential killers tentatively identified as an asteroid impact, an intense volcanic activity, or gradual changes in geography and climate. New advances in seemingly distant fields, like Big Data and machine learning, may help narrow down the list of suspects.
Palaeobiology 2.0 - A closer look into modern computer-based palaeobiology
Omar Regalado Fernandez (PhD student)
Palaeontology is not anymore just going out to the field and digging out bones – although for some it is indeed the funniest part. As we gather more and more data, a lot of techniques have been developed to help us make sense of all of it. In the era of Big Data, dinosaurs are definitely occupying a lot of it.