Dinosaurs have roamed the earth for about 160 million years until an asteroid hit, leading to their extinction. One of the most common questions we often encounter is; how life existed after that period? To this day, scientists are continuously studying the progress of life back then. Here’s what we know;
After the asteroid wiped out all the dinosaurs, scientists discovered that fungi were the dominant life form on earth. These organisms started to thrive because of deforestation and the lack of sunlight since they don’t rely on photosynthesis.
How Did Dinosaurs Become Extinct?
About 65.5 million years ago, the Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction happened. This was the name given to the event that caused the wiping out of the dinosaurs. Several paleontologists believed that this was primarily caused by geological changes that affected the food supply of these dinosaurs. However, by the 1980s, scientists Luis and Walter Alvarez found evidence that suggests that a comet, asteroid, or meteor’s impact caused the annihilation of the species. In the 90s, scientists were able to locate the Chicxulub Crater, which proves this very theory. (Source: History)
Did Other Lifeforms Co-exist With the Dinosaurs?
Aside from dinosaurs, several species of plants, amphibians, and mammals were present during that era. They, too, died out. Though scientists have studied several theories about their fate, some theories do make sense more than others.
One theory describes how mammals might have eaten the dinosaur eggs, which ultimately affected their population. Another theory is that dinosaur brains were too small for their huge bodies to no longer manage themselves. Then there is the theory of a plague-like disease that decimated their population, which then spread throughout the Earth when other animals consumed their carcasses. (Source: History)
Are Fungi Responsible for Repopulating the Planet?
According to research, when the asteroid hit Earth, 75% of life, including some mammals and plants, died out. When the dinosaurs were extinct, this allowed smaller organisms to thrive. Fungi, however, has been essential to the development of life on Earth as we know it.
Fungi are absolutely remarkable chemists. Fungi produce molecules that humans still can’t reproduce in a lab, and we’re only beginning to scrape the surface of what we can learn from them.Gerry Wright from McMaster University
As simple as fungi may seem, they are actually quite complex organisms. They are commonly found on land, rocks, and soil. Terrestrial by nature. They form a symbiotic relationship with plants that survived the asteroid.
Ultimately, fungi helped plants move away from being these marginal tiny little things on the water’s edge into large forests and entire ecosystems. The fungi provided essential minerals for land plants that allowed them to spread and turn the planet green — changing the composition of the atmosphere.Katie Field from the University of Leeds.
Plants started to decay due to the lack of sunlight. This made an ideal environment for fungi to spread and ultimately dominate the Earth at some point. (Source: CBC)
How Does Fungi Help Us Today?
Fungi are decomposers that are responsible for keeping our forests alive. Without them to help in the process of decomposition, we would probably be buried under a massive amount of dead matter.
Fungi are the garbage disposal agents of the natural world. They break down dead, organic matter and by doing that they release nutrients and those nutrients are then made available for plants to carry on growing. So that this entire web of life is connected and it’s connected through the fungi.Lynne Boddy from Cardiff University