Did Elusive Dark Matter Trigger Global Mass Extinctions and Doom the Dinosaurs?
Associations between unseen forces in space and terrific cataclysms on Earth are being made by scientists who hypothesize that dark matter might be behind ancient mass dinosaur extinctions, and may contribute to future catastrophes.
The most infamous of the “Big Five” dramatic mass extinctions of the dinosaurs occurred 66 million years ago. It is attributed to a mountain-sized space rock impacting Earth, causing instant and long-reaching disaster on a planetary scale, reports science magazine Scientific American . Such ancient impacts can leave lasting impressions on our planet which remain visible as geological surface scars, as seen in the Yucatan Peninsula and many other locations around the globe.
Impact event, illustration. Does dark matter lead to destructive impacts and volcanic activity on Earth, leading to mass extinctions? Public Domain
Researchers have traditionally pointed to meteor impacts, ash-spewing volcanic eruptions , and gigantic hurricanes as the smoking-guns of ancient mass extinction, but now scientists are looking further afield and wondering if the meteor strikes and climate-destroying geological events on Earth might be triggered by outside, previously undetected forces.
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Pingualuit impact crater in Nunavik, northern Quebec, Canada. The almost perfect circular crater made by an ancient meteor strike now contains a freshwater lake. Public Domain
Some scientists theorize that our solar system’s cyclical travels through a thin disk of dark matter may trigger comet bombardments and planetary upheaval which then cause mass extinctions – and these extinctions can allegedly be observed to occur roughly every 26 million to 30 million years on Earth.
Science journal Nature reports, “In the past, researchers have noticed this association, and suggested that perhaps clouds of dust and gas, and possibly even dark matter, in the Milky Way’s plane might be somehow shaking comets off their orbits and causing them to slam into Earth, triggering these mass extinctions.”
Dark matter is not well understood by scientists, and as such its alleged impact on our solar system and planet remains a hypothesis. The elusive matter is said to be an invisible substance which flows through and interacts with the universe, and is described as “the cosmic scaffolding upon which galaxies coalesce” by Scientific American. It is reportedly detectable by observing its gravitational pull on other objects.
Artist’s impression of the Milky Way galaxy. The blue halo of material surrounding the galaxy indicates the expected distribution of the mysterious dark matter, which was first introduced by astronomers to explain the rotation properties of the galaxy and is now also an essential ingredient in current theories of the formation and evolution of galaxies. European Southern Observatory (ESO) /Wikimedia Commons
According to The Telegraph , biology professor and geoscientist Michael Rampino of New York University suggests that dark matter might alter orbits of asteroids and comets, and contribute to heating of the earth’s core, triggering geological events such as volcanoes, earthquakes, hurricanes – culminating in mass extinction. Ominously, it is suggested that dark matter might concentrate in the planet’s core, generating heat which may cause everything from magnetic field reversals to changes in sea levels.
Rampino’s research has been published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society .
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Scientific American explains the potential cycle of prehistoric devastation:
In the early 1980s, the University of Chicago paleontologists David Raup and Jack Sepkoski found evidence for a 26-million-year pattern of mass extinction in the fossil record since the Great Dying of the Permian-Triassic. This 26-million-year periodicity overlaps and closely aligns with the Big Five extinctions, as well as several others. In subsequent work over the years, several other researchers examining Earth’s geological record have replicated Raup and Sepkoski’s original conclusions, finding a mass-extinction periodicity of roughly 30 million years that extends back half a billion years. Some of those same researchers have also claimed to detect similar, aligned periodicities in impact cratering and in volcanic activity. Every 30 million years, give or take a few million, it seems the stars align to make all life on Earth suffer.
As little is known about dark matter at this point, only further research can reveal what it is, and how it definitively affects our solar system, and thus our planet and ourselves. To avoid going the way of the dinosaurs, it behooves us to learn.
Featured Image: What event finished off the dinosaurs in a global mass extinction – and what might have triggered it? Scientists now wonder if dark matter is the culprit. Credit: Gerta Keller, NSF
By Liz Leafloor
“But since the magma greatly outweighs the crust and ocean (5000 to 1 mass of magma of ocean water), the magma would force its way right into the crust and uplift it,...”
So since magma is denser and heavier than water, why should it rise up? The effects of Earth’s gravity on magma would be multiple orders of magnitude larger than that excerted by a passing by object, so the magma should stay put.
“If you look at the earth’s mountain ranges, they go in great arcs and circles and run in pairs. They look like what would happen when the centrifugal force of the orbiting earth battled with the gravity of a nearby planet.”
And you know this how? Have you carried out a simulation? Do you have the results of the simulation published in a peer reviewed journal? I do hope you understood what centrifugal force is, when you carried out the simulation.
“Dark matter is not well understood by scientists”
I think the author needs to change “well” to “not at all”.
Dark matter “exists” to fill in gaps in theory. The observed universe has not turned out the way the theory predicted. Quantum mechanics and relativity can’t reconcile. We have something fundamentally wrong with our theories, but no one can figure out what, yet.
Big Ideas take a long time. Leibniz and Newton invented the calculus about 400 years ago, but Einstein didn’t come up with his work until 300 years after them. According to Bertrand Russell, Leibniz also made major advances in logic, but instead of publishing his work, he put it in a drawer and no one found it for over 200 years. True geniuses don’t come around that often. The smartest people in the world have worked on these problems, without success.
As to this theory, it represents an incremental step in mainstream scientists finally admitted the uniformitarianism does not explain the world or the solar system.
Catastrophists since at least Newton and Whitson have argued that the earth has had cataclysmic encounters with celestial bodies.
Several people have proposed a large planet orbiting the Sun on a highly eccentric orbit that returns every tens of thousand years or so. The yugas of around 24,000 years might represent the orbit.
But this scientist, like most mainstream ones, insists on the millions of years ago disasters, with none happening in human times.
But this ignores our own myths from around the world of massive disasters.
“The mountains melted like wax at the presence of the LORD, At the presence of the Lord of the whole earth.”
If a large planetary sized body came close to the earth without colliding with it, its gravity would exert enormous forces on the earth’s crust and magma. But since the magma greatly outweighs the crust and ocean (5000 to 1 mass of magma of ocean water), the magma would force its way right into the crust and uplift it, creating mountain ranges in a matter of hours or days. This would kill most life.
If you look at the earth’s mountain ranges, they go in great arcs and circles and run in pairs. They look like what would happen when the centrifugal force of the orbiting earth battled with the gravity of a nearby planet.