Although it has always been claimed that the reason for the extinction of the dinosaurs was the fall of a meteorite in the territory of what is now Mexico, researchers from Albany and Baltimore have yet again moved the pieces of the international scientific board and have recently presented a new theory in which, according to their tests, the prehistoric giants were extinguished as a result of consuming toxic plants.
The theory has for a long time been that, almost 70 million years ago, the fall of a meteorite caused an explosion in the Yucatan Peninsula and the toxic gases and the ash cloud that originated from the impact, covered almost the entire planet, leaving their gigantic inhabitants without life.
While that theory has not been ruled out, academics at the University of Albany point out that there was another determining factor in the disappearance of the dinosaurs.
According to their new hypothesis, the prehistoric animals did not know how to distinguish between healthy plants and the toxic plants that they ate. By eating the bad plants, their population began to diminish little by little until they became extinct.
Gordon Gallup, professor and evolutionary psychologist, explained that these animals did not develop during their evolution the defense mechanism known as aversion to learned taste, something that would explain the lack of empirical recognition in the face of danger.
“One reason why most attempts to eliminate rats have not succeeded is because, like many other species, they have evolved to cope with toxicity. Generally, they only take a small amount, and if they get sick they show a remarkable ability to avoid that food again, because they associate the taste and smell with the negative reaction,” explained the academic.
The researchers indicate that the extinction began before the explosion and after the appearance of the angiosperms, the first flowering plants.
Without wanting to completely discard the meteorite hypothesis, Gallup and his student Michael J. Frederick point out that the plants developed toxic defenses and the dinosaurs continued to consume them despite their discomfort.
“The prevailing view of dinosaur extinction based on the impact of asteroids means that the disappearance of dinosaurs should have been sudden and the effects should have been widespread,” Gallup said. “The evidence clearly shows the opposite: the dinosaurs began to disappear long before the impact of the asteroid and continued to disappear gradually for millions of years after,” he explained.
Again according to his theory, although the asteroid played a determining factor, “the psychological deficit that made the dinosaurs incapable of learning to refrain from eating certain plants had already exerted great pressure on the species.”