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Breakthroughs in Science

David and Goliath of the Cretaceous Period

May 9th, 2008

Those of us who don’t study bugs are just laboring under false illusions, apparently.

An excerpt from CBC radio’s Quirks and Quarks program, which is downloadable:

poinar“There are plenty of hypotheses about why the dinosaurs went extinct. The most popular is that an asteroid hit the Earth and created a cloud of debris that cooled the planet, leading to the dinosaurs’ eventual demise. But that scenario has never been universally satisfying, and now Dr. George Poinar is proposing his own idea. He’s an entomologist in the department of Zoology at Oregon State University, and the author of What Bugged the Dinosaurs. In his book, he explores an often overlooked aspect of life in the Cretaceous period: the role of insects in ecology. He believes invertebrates played a major role in shaping the world at that time, including spreading disease to a largely naive dinosaur population. That, he suggests, may have pushed them to the edge of extinction, and combining that with changes to the environment may have pushed them over the edge to total loss.”

To learn more about Dr. Poinar’s research: click here.

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