Extinction at the K-T Boundary
• As the novel begins, the author begins by examining the scientific debate over extinction.
• In 1786, Baron Georges Cuvier first demonstrated that species became extinct.
• When Darwin set forth his theory of evolution many years later, there was very little debate on Darwin's theory. Scientists simply saw extinction as the failure of a species to adapt.
• However, in the 1970s, scientists began to wonder if humanity's behavior could ultimately lead to extinction and, looking for answers, began to study the extinction of previous species.
• In 1980, Luis Alvarez discovered high levels of iridium in the earth at a point called the K-T boundary. (K standing for Cretaceous; T standing for Tertiary).
• To Alvarez, the presence of iridium suggested a giant meteor from space. This supported the theory that dinosaurs were wiped out by a meteor strike instead of their behavior.
• Alvarez's iridium discovery calmed scientific...
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