In DepthPaleoclimatology

Dinosaur climate probed

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Science  12 Jun 2015:
Vol. 348, Issue 6240, pp. 1185
DOI: 10.1126/science.348.6240.1185

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Summary

Well before an asteroid struck the planet some 66 million years ago, Earth was already in turmoil, a record from an ancient lakebed in northeastern China suggests. Investigators knew from ocean floor sediments that the climate was unstable at the end of the Cretaceous period, when the dinosaurs were making their last stand. But findings from deep drilling in the Songliao Basin show that the climate swings on land were far more drastic, with average annual temperatures going up or down by as much as 20°C over tens of thousands of years—a geological eyeblink. The findings support a growing consensus that a one-two punch felled the dinosaurs and their contemporaries.

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