The end-Cretaceous (or K-Pg) extinction is one of the best known mass extinctions in Earth's history, primarily because that is when non-avian dinosaurs disappeared. Although the popular idea is that an asteroid impact was what caused the extinction, the science hasn't actually been that clear. More recently, a second hypothesis has challenged the idea asteroid as the main culprit, suggesting that huge volcanic eruptions in what is now India called the Deccan Traps was responsible. It has also been suggested that dinosaurs were already in decline when these things happened, speeding up the inevitable.

In this interview, we speak with Dr Alessandro Chiarenza, a research associate at University College London about his new paper published today in PNAS showing that it really was the asteroid impact that killed the dinosaurs. This new study, based on research he did during his PhD at Imperial College London, uses a large amount of data put into climatic models to analyse different scenarios caused by an asteroid impact, the Deccan Traps volcanism, and a combination of the two. This study showed that the asteroid caused a prolonged impact winter, causing the extinction of the dinosaurs.

Direct download: Ep112.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:00pm UTC

In this episode, in conjunction with the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology (SVP), we investigate issues of diversity in palaeontology, through interviews with Jann Nassif (PhD student at Ohio University, USA) on being transgender in palaeontology; Professor Taissa Rodrigues (Universidade Federal do EspĂ­rito Santo, Brazil) and Dr Femke Holwerda (Dr Betsy Nicholls Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology, Canada) about women in palaeontology; and Gabriel-Philip Santos (Collections Manager and Outreach Coordinator at the Raymond M. Alf Museum of Paleontology at The Webb Schools) about racial diversity. We also spoke with Professor Jessica Theodor (University of Calgary), the Vice President of SVP about what they are doing to increase diversity and address these issues. This episode was recorded in 2019 at the SVP meeting in Brisbane, Australia, but for several reasons has taken us a little while to complete. Given the current discussions and anti-racism activism going on around the world, we thought this was a good time to reflect on some of the issues within our science and the ways in which they are being addressed.

Direct download: Ep111.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:56pm UTC