Sixty-five million years ago, a meteor smashed into Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, throwing up billowing clouds of ash and smoke that quickly spread, over the next few days and weeks, across the world’s atmosphere.
Blotted out, the sun could no longer nourish the earth’s teeming ferns, forests and flowers, and as these plants died, so did the animals that fed on them–first the herbivorous dinosaurs, and then the carnivorous dinosaurs whose populations these plant-eaters sustained.
That, in a nutshell, is the story of the K/T Extinction Event. But some experts think this story is incomplete: it has a suitably thrilling climax, to be sure, but not enough attention has been paid to the events leading up to it.
Specifically, evidence exists that the five million years leading up to the K/T Extinction witnessed a huge surge in volcanic activity–and that lung-choking, sun-blocking volcanic ash, every bit as much as meteor debris, may have weakened dinosaurs to such an extent that they were easy pickings for the Yucatan disaster. To recreate this exciting theory, we made our own volcanoes out of clay, baking soda, and vinegar. Students enjoyed manipulating their dinosaurs onto these volcanoes, watching in glee as they exploded!