Date 11-29-90 2144 Subj Extraterrestrial Hunters? DENVER - The discovery of two giant dino

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Date: 11-29-90 21:44 Subj: Extraterrestrial Hunters? DENVER -- The discovery of two giant dinosaurs in Wyoming is reigniting debate over why the huge beasts became extinct. Colorado paleontologist Robert Bakker, who led the team that found the dinosaur remains, said Thursday the discoveries reinforce his theory that dinosaurs became extinct gradually. A scientist at the Smithsonian Institution who supports the theory that dinosaurs met their end suddenly, in a cosmic collision, says the latest finds prove nothing of the sort. The extinction of dinosaurs is "a big area of controversy right now in science," said Dr. Richard Stucky, paleontologist at the Denver Museum of Natural History. Scientists offer dozens of theories about the mysterious mass extinctions, including a change in the Earth's motion, famine, parasites, poisons, climatic changes, meteorites and even extraterrestrial hunters. The debate is on again since Bakker's team of University of Colorado scientists unearthed a 70-foot-long, 25-foot-high Haplocanthosaurus. A member of the cetiosaur or "whale dinosaur" family. The "Carlin Giant" found near McFadden, Wyo., was the largest cetiosaur ever located, Bakker said. The second find is the only brontosaurus scientists have placed in the Cretaceous Period, which began 135 million years ago. Before that discovery, near Rock River, Wyo., in a fossil deposit known as Breakfast Bench, no brontosaur had been found that was less than 137 million years old. Bakker announced the discoveries Wednesday. The remains were found last summer. "The fossil record clearly indicates that these mass extinctions were not the result of a Saturday night of cosmic mayhem," Bakker said. "The last remains of different (dinosaur) families are strewn through millions of years of rock," he said. Nicholaus Hotton, a curator of paleobiology at the Smithsonian Institution, disagrees. He still subscribes to a collision theory, which he said is evidenced by iridium-rich sediments in the deposits marking the end of the Cretaceous Period. Iridium is a heavy metal found in platinum ores. "The crustal rocks in the top kilometers of the earth are very poor in iridium, but meteors and things are very rich in iridium. So why do you find that in that zone?" Hotton said. "The argument is that they were brought in from the outside ... an asteroid, comet, or one hell of a big meteorite that struck the Earth. And in doing so it disrupted the ecology," he said. Bakker believes extensive migration and subsequent disease epidemics may have wiped out dinosaurs. He said Hotton is missing the "frog facts." "If a comet or asteroid hit the earth and killed all the dinosaurs, how then were the deaths so selective?" he asked. "The fact (is) that the little delicate animals -- like frogs -- survived and the large aggressive animals didn't." According to Bakker, dinosaurs became extinct because of worldwide diseases. "Dinosaurs didn't go out with a bang, they went out with worldwide diarrhea," he said. The cetiosaur bones eventually will be displayed at the University of Wyoming and at North Carolina State University, which assisted the fieldwork.


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