Thursday, February 7, 2013

Fundraising killed the dinosaurs, says new study

The old stone that shows signs of dinosaur fundraising

Palaeontologists have come up with an alternative theory as to why all the dinosaurs became extinct  66 million years ago – over-fundraising.

In a study published in the journal, Weird Paleontology, a team from the University of Northeastern Western University in Alberta, Canada says they have found evidence that fundraising led to the mass extinction of dinosaurs during what is known as the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event.

The evidence comes from a rock found in the Badlands area near Drumheller, Alberta, where many dinosaur skeletons have been found over the years. Carbon-dating shows that the fossils in the rock come from the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction era.

“The rock shows that the dinosaurs had built-up a very sophisticated fundraising infrastructure just before they became extinct. Clues in the rock show that it may have been an early kind of pledge form. If true, it changes everything about what we know about dinosaurs,” said Dr. Dibble Brewer, lead scientist for the team.

Until recently, most scientists believe that dinosaurs sat around eating grass or each other and occasionally time travellers who came back to find out why they became extinct. Brewer says the exact opposite was true. Their research shows that dinosaurs had developed language, had begun to share food and had started a primitive form of community fundraising. They donated food, weaker animals of their pack that were no longer productive and other things to support other dinosaurs in need.

“This fits with what we know about dinosaurs from this era. Their teeth became less sharp, they developed the ability to put their hands out to ask for money and often had neck and wrist pain from using fundraising databases that were too complicated,” said Brewer.

“This move to a fundraising economy shows an intelligence and sophistication that we never suspected before. It was, unfortunately, what also killed them all off.”

Brewer and his team suspect that when a meteor fell in what is now called the Chicxulub crater, on the coast of Yucat√°n, Mexico, the dinosaurs were totally unprepared fundraising-wise.
“The meteor must have been terrible. Tidal waves, dust clouds, hurricanes, changes in climate. But we speculate they might have survived if it wasn’t for their fundraisers.”

In a theory called “Fundraising killed them all” the science team says like today’s natural disasters, the dinosaurs likely dug deep into their pockets (if they had any) to give to less fortunate animals affected by the disaster.

“But this was no hurricane, famine or drought. This was all of those put together on steroids. They must have kept giving and giving until they had nothing left. Then, when the weather turned bad, they died off. Fundraising just killed them.”

One of the rocks recovered by the team shows animal prints on a pledge form, which Brewer says shows that at the end many dinosaurs tried to cancel their pledges. By that time, it was too late.

“The lesson we can learn from all of this is that fundraising is a risky business and can, in the right circumstances, lead to extinction. Other than that, it’s fine,” said Brewer.

Future research will look into how cell phones destroyed the small minds of young dinosaurs before the extinction event.