The Gravity Theory Of Gigantism and Extinction
by John Stojanowski
This document is a follow-up to the original theory of Dinosaur Gigantism and Extinction entitled “THE RISE AND ALL OF THE DINOSAURS”, copyright 2004.
A brief summary of the original theory follows.
The existing continents of the world, through plate tectonic motion, coalesced into a single super-continent called Pangea approximately 260 mya. This coalescing process caused a gradual reduction in the gravitational field on the surface of the super-continent such that some species of land and aquatic animals (and flying reptiles) were able to grow to extreme physical size that would not be possible in today’s gravitational field. The breakup of Pangea resulted in an increasing gravitational field which led to the downsizing of many land and sea animals and was the primary reason for the extinction of dinosaurs as well as flying and sea reptiles.
A thought experiment, which might clarify how this happened, follows.
Imagine that you are standing somewhere on the Earth’s surface. At the opposite side of the planet are two very tall buildings. Those two buildings start moving toward you but in an opposite direction from each other. In other words, one building will eventually reach you, for example, from the west and the other from the east. In their initial position, their effect on your weight will be insignificant because they are very far away; a distance equal to the Earth’s diameter. The buildings move around the planet until they appear on the horizon. This is the point at which their effect on your weight starts to become significant for two reasons. Before we address those two reasons, let’s visualize the final position of those two buildings. That position has you touching one building with your right hand and the other building with your left hand. It should be clear that the effect on your weight of those two buildings went from a positive one (they supplemented the Earth’s pull on your body) to a negative one (they are above you cancelling part of the Earth’s pull on your body).
As the two buildings appear on the horizon and move toward you, the two factors that come into play are:
1. The distance from you to the building gets smaller. Newton’s Universal Law of Gravitation (see original theory) posits that the gravitational force (i.e., weight, in this context) is inversely proportional to the square of the distance between two objects. Thus, the impact of those two buildings on your weight rapidly increases as they approach you.
2. The two buildings start to direct their gravitational effect on you away from the mid-point of the Earth (which increases your weight) and toward a point above you culminating in the maximum negative effect when they are next to, and above you.
When the buildings are replaced by the Earth’s continents coalescing to form Pangea, it can be concluded that the gravitational change, and therefore the reduction in the weight of objects on the super-continent, would have been significant.
During the approximately 125 million years that the Laurasia/Gondwanaland super-continent existed, dinosaurs flourished. Note that Pangea is the name applied to the consolidation of these two large land masses, which in turn consist of a consolidation of smaller continental land masses. Many of the dinosaurs grew to astounding size. The breakup of Gondwanaland and the subsequent splitting of Africa and South America approximately 135mya was followed by the disappearance of the largest of the sauropod dinosaurs during the early Cretaceous Period. Referencing the previous thought experiment, it should be apparent that the greatest rate of change in gravitational force would occur at the inception of the breakup of the largest land masses of Pangea.
It has to be noted that the breakup of Pangea was not a simple separation of all the present-day continents occurring at the same time. The time line of Pangea, scientists believe, is approximately:
420-395mya The continents merged into 2 super-continents:
Laurasia...consisting of Antarctica, Australia, N. America and India and
Gondwanaland...consisting of Africa and S. America.
350-260mya Laurasia and Gondwanaland combine to form Pangea.
248mya Pangea starts to breakup into Laurasia and Gondwanaland.
180-160mya Gondwanaland broke apart separating into the Africa/S. America land mass and the Antarctica/Australia/India land mass.
145-135mya S. America splits into a continent separate from Africa.
N. America splits from Laurasia.
100-96mya Australia and New Zealand separate from Antarctica. Also, Madagascar and the Seychelles Islands separate from India.
76mya New Zealand separates from Australia.
This timeline helps to explain why the largest sauropod dinosaurs and the largest reptiles became extinct by the mid-Cretaceous (approximately 110-100 mya). By this time, all large present-day continents had separated and were drifting apart. This was the time of the greatest rate of increase of the gravitational field on the continents.
Could Reduced Gravity Growth (RGG) land animals evolve to a smaller size to compensate for an increasing gravitational field? In most instances they could not. Their predators had
simultaneously evolved to a RGG size sufficient to successfully prey on those species. There could only be a negative impact resulting from downsizing.........increasing predation and eventual extinction. The increasing gravitational force would have a profound effect upon all land, sea and flying animals. It was this destabilizing change in force (i.e., weight) and the resultant extinctions that created gaps in the diversity of dinosaur species on land that permitted carnivorous mammals to rise from small shrew-like rodents to larger animals capable of competing with, and eventually displacing all, non-avian dinosaurs.
II. THE K-T EXTINCTION----------- VOLCANISM, IMPACT OR GRAVITATIONAL?
Paleontologist David Raup gave his criteria for mass extinction:
“For geographically widespread species, extinction is likely if the killing stress is one so rare as to be beyond the experience of the species and thus outside the reach of natural selection.”
Only this Gravitational Theory conforms with this criteria. Volcanism and bolide impaction have been common occurrences during the 160 million years that the non-avian dinosaurs inhabited the Earth.
Many scientists have focused exclusively on volcanism and impact phenomena to explain the K-T Extinction and prior major extinctions. I believe future research will prove that none of the major extinctions were the result of these two activities. The coalescing and breakup of continental land masses will be found to be the culprit. Specifically, the concomitant alterations in the gravitational field caused the direct extinction of certain species that had developed RGG structures that were incompatible with a significant change in gravitational forces. Extreme volcanism is a concomitant action of continental collisions and breakup so that finding volcanism activity at a time of major extinctions is best described by the Latin phrase:
“Cum hoc ergo propter hoc”
The above describes the mistaken supposition that when two events occur at the same time, one must have caused the other. Major impacts have not been found to correspond with major extinctions except for the K-T extinction. However, it must be noted that some scientists question whether the Chicxulub crater is a result of bolide impaction. This will be addressed later in this document.
I also believe that attempts to establish a precise periodicity to major extinctions cannot be established. The reason for this is that the coalescing and rifting of large land masses due to plate tectonics, which in my opinion are the primary cause of the extinctions, do not occur in intervals of equal duration nor is the pattern of consolidation and breakup the same each time.
III. WHY DID SOME SPECIES SURVIVE THE K-T EXTINCTION AND OTHERS DID NOT?
The phrase “K-T extinction event” will not be used here because there was no single event that caused the demise of all of the non-avian dinosaurs and other aquatic biota. The K-T boundary is an arbitrary period in time which appears to delineate the transition from dinosaurs to mammals. Because this transition was a gradual one, it will not be surprising to find some residual dinosaur fossil remains above this boundary. This could happen but the absence of dinosaur remains in the so called “ghastly three meter gap”, the three meter expanse below the clay boundary layer, would make it a slim possibility.
When the Pangean super-continent was formed, the reduced gravity environment raised the physical-limit ceiling for both flora and fauna. Survival-oriented evolution would dictate the growth patterns of the Earth’s biota. Some land animals would hardly be affected in terms of their physical size. Others would take the Reduced Gravity Growth (RGG) path to gigantism, evolving to sizes not possible today. Some of the largest dinosaurs, all sauropods were:
||3. Brachiosaurus (40-50ft tall)
|4. Sauroposeidon (60 ft tall)
|5. Supersaurus (54 ft tall)
Note that the weight given above are the estimates of the dinosaur’s weight in today’s gravitational environment. If those sauropods could have been weighed when they were alive in the Mesozoic Era, one would have to divide the above weight by a factor of 4 to 6.
Not all land animals would be affected by RGG. It is for this reason that they passed through the K-T boundary relatively unaffected. Some of those were:
. Most mammals
. Many small dinosaurs
It has to be noted that within the Crocodilian group, there was a sub-species that did take the RGG path to gigantism. This was the case with the “Super Croc” whose remains were found in the Sahara Desert. Named Sarcosuchus imperator, the ancient reptile lived approximately 100mya and weighed as much as 10 tons and was about 40 feet long. Super Croc went extinct while its non-RGG cousins are with us today. It is no coincidence that the largest dinosaurs became extinct in the early to middle Cretaceous along with the largest terrestrial reptiles such as Sarcosuchus imperator. The rifting of Laurasia/Gondwanaland into the present-day continents had been complete (approximately 135mya to 100mya) and the rate of change of the gravitational force was at its maximum.
If we think about the thought experiment described earlier, the rate of change of the gravitational field will become apparent. If an object is located directly below those two tall buildings, the buildings are having their maximum negative effect on the object’s weight. As those two buildings move away toward the horizon, the component of their respective gravitational pull on the object away from the center of the Earth becomes smaller very rapidly because the angle between the radial line from the Earth’s center through the object and the line from the object to one of the buildings is going from zero to ninety degrees rapidly. Thus a smaller component of the buildings’ pull affects the object. In addition, the inverse square rule for gravitational force (see original theory) compounds the effect. Therefore, when Pangea began to split apart, the greatest rate of gravitational change was at the start of the breakup of the largest land masses. As mentioned earlier, the breakup of the super-continent happened in stages starting with Laurasia and Gondwanaland. This might explain the smaller extinctions, sometimes referred to as “stepwise extinctions”, believed to have occurred during the Mesozoic. The RGG land animals would, if they could not evolve to a state compatible with an increasing gravitational environment, become extinct. Evolutionary downsizing is much more difficult to do than upsizing and this will be addressed later in this document.
The non-RGG land animals and those that were only slightly affected directly by an increasing gravitational environment would be affected indirectly. We know than even in today’s world that the removal of a single species or sub-species can have a cascading effect. The gradual extinction of the RGG land animals during the Cretaceous had a disruptive effect on the dinosaur diversity equilibrium that had existed for over 100my. It was this equilibrium and diversity that held mammals in check, relegating them to small, burrowing shrew-like animals. Small and medium size carnivorous dinosaurs were the obstacle to mammal growth and expansion.
In the late Jurassic, a period of sauropod gigantism, there were at least 6 long-necked brontosaurs that could feed tripodally (by rising up on 2 rear legs). Their heads were uplifted to 40 feet or more above the ground to reach the treetops. By the early Cretaceous all of these brontosaurs had become extinct and the sauropods that succeeded them were shorter. Their replacements had long necks but held them out more horizontally. How do paleontologists explain that? Today, we marvel at a giraffe, the tallest land-living mammal, that feeds at a mere 16-18 feet above the ground and does not feed tripodally. A giraffe’s heart weighs up to 24 pounds and must produce twice the normal pressure for a large mammal in order to supply the brain with blood.
THE TITANOSAUR DILEMMA
As mentioned earlier, almost all of the largest dinosaurs, the sauropods, became extinct during the early Cretaceous Period. This extinction is consistent with the gravitational theory of gigantism and extinction described in this document. However, there is one lineage of sauropods that did continue to exist until the end of the Cretaceous. This would seem to be a major flaw of the theory. Why were these sauropods able to flourish in an increasing gravitational field while all the others had died out? I can only speculate as to the answer to that question. The fossil record for titanosaurs is not as expansive as it is for other dinosaurs. This might be because most of the titanosaur fossils found, and there haven’t been a lot, have been found in South America and not in North America.
Here’s why I believe the titanosaurs were able to thrive well into the Cretaceous Period:
1. In general, the titanosaurs were smaller than the earlier sauropods. With the exception of Argentinosaurus (with a length of up to 100 feet), the other titanosaurs didn’t exceed about 60 feet in length. It should be noted that the remains of Argentinosaurus were found in the Cenomanian Age (about 91mya) and not toward the very end of the Cretaceous.
2. The presence of armor, in the form of bony scutes on the neck and upper bodies, on many if not all of the titanosaurs is very important. Their presence could signify an attempt to downsize! As mentioned elsewhere in this document, downsizing for large sauropods was unlikely because their predators also followed the RGG path to gigantism. The development of armor could have been a way of compensating for the gravitationally induced pressure to downsize.
3. The “wide-gauge trackways” of the titanosaurs could imply several characteristics which would be in conformity with an increasing gravitational force:
. Titanosaurs were less migratory than other sauropods implying that they did not form herds. By evolving a lower, squatter form, their energy consumption needs would be much less.
. Titanosaurs were more likely to inhabit swamp-like areas so that their relatively large size would be less of a handicap due to the buoyancy of the lakes and rivers they spent most of their life in.
The recent discovery of a very massive titanosaur, Paralititan stromeri, in what was a mangrove swamp in Egypt does support the above speculation. Paralititan means “tidal giant.” The estimate of 94mya, close to the time frame of Argentinosaurus, supports my belief that the titanosaurs became smaller, less mobile and acquired more armor as the end of the Cretaceous Period approached to compensate for the increasing gravitational field.
The almost complete extinction of the marsupials but not placental mammals at the end of the Cretaceous is directly explainable by the gravitational theory.
The circumstantial evidence for a lowered gravitational force during the Mesozoic Era is overwhelming!
The disappearance of the RGG dinosaurs created gaps in the diversity of the dinosaurs. This is what confuses some who mention that mammals coexisted with dinosaurs for many tens of millions of years and therefore could not suddenly pose a threat to them. The belief was that mammals had remained at a small shrew-like size during the entire reign of the dinosaurs. Recent discoveries have falsified that belief. In China, a carnivorous, dog-size mammal from approximately 130mya named Repenomamus giganticus was discovered. The fossil remains of a smaller, related species approximately 15 inches long, named Repenomamus robustus was also found. And, what is significant and very important is the fact that the remains of a juvenile dinosaur was found in the smaller mammal’s stomach. This is undeniable proof that some mammals had become carnivorous adversaries of the dinosaurs capable of not only scavenging the eggs of dinosaurs but also preying on the their young long before the K-T boundary.
As a result of the increasing gravitational field, the gaps in the dinosaur diversity became wider. Fewer species of small carnivorous dinosaurs allowed for the rapid expansion of smaller carnivorous mammals. The dinosaurs, laying their eggs on the unprotected surface of the ground, would become vulnerable to the new, crafty, more intelligent, placenta-based mammals. Unlike the reptiles that survived the K-T extinction and exist today, such as crocodilians and turtles which bury their eggs below ground, the dinosaurs would gradually lose the survival battle with the mammals.
Many sea animals, as with land animals, would follow the path of RGG gigantism. The breakup of Pangea with the concomitant increase in the gravitational field strength would similarly affect sea animals which could not evolve to a form compatible with that change.
It would be expected that the RGG sea animals that evolved as surface feeders would be affected the most. Their bodies evolved to give them three advantageous characteristics:
Large body size
Plesiosaurs, for example, relied on these characteristics. There were different lineages of plesiosaurs but the one which was prevalent in the late Cretaceous Period was the Elasmosaurus. The largest ones were up to 46 feet in length with a neck almost 20 feet long. Its extremely long neck and small head allowed it to come within striking distance of smaller fish undetected. Clearly, its long neck was only possible with an oversized body. It could not possibly downsize and still be an effective hunter in the sea.
Ichthyosaurs were a large dolphin-like swimming reptile built for speed (of about 40mph) that became extinct. But it became extinct about 90mya, long before the K-T boundary. Increasing gravity and not an event at the K-T boundary is the most likely cause. The Ichthyosaurs were around in the early Triassic and diversified throughout the Triassic and most of the Jurassic. Only one species, the Platypterygius lasted into the Cretaceous. More than likely, its method of feeding, that of high speed pursuit, became a disadvantage as the gravitational field increased. It also gave live birth to its young, a method known as viviparous (or ovoviviparous). Usually this is done in surface waters and might also have been negatively affected by increases in gravitational forces.
Mosasaurs were large sea reptiles which apparently did not survive beyond the K-T boundary. They are believed to have existed from about 85-65mya. Described as the top predator in the sea, they seemed to evolve relatively soon after the Ichthyosaurs became extinct. They were up to 17 meters in length and up to 20 tons in weight. It is believed that they are related to snakes and monitor lizards. They were not fast swimmers and were ambush predators. This is probably why they survived into the late Cretaceous with the increasing gravitational field while the high speed pursuit Ichthyosaurs disappeared earlier. They hunted in near-surface waters.
One factor which might override all others relative to the sea reptiles is the following. All sea reptiles must rise to the surface to obtain air to breathe. An increase in the gravitational force would have a negative effect on that function. A second factor, mentioned above, is that they are viviparous, meaning that they give birth to their young alive. This is done in near surface waters. This is another function which would be negatively affected by an increasing of the gravitational field strength.
Smaller sea creatures were also vulnerable to the gravitational increase. In general, where a certain level of buoyancy was critical for survival and the sea life forms were not able to evolve to compensate for the increasing gravitational force, extinction was the result. This would be true of the molluscan ammonites, belemnites and planktonic life forms.
Bottom feeders should have been the least affected by an increasing gravitational field. Gastropods, brachiopods, radiolaria, diatoms, dinoflagellates and bottom dwelling foraminifera were least affected.
Not every species, land or sea based, that disappeared toward the end of the Cretaceous can be attributed directly to the gravitational change. The breakup of Pangea would affect species that thrived in the shallow waterways that disappeared as the super-continent gradually broke apart. Changes in water temperature and salinity could have influenced their extinction.
Foraminifera prior to K-T boundary
Foraminifera from after K-T boundary
THE FORAMINIFERA CONTROVERSY
Foraminifera, or forams, are small single-celled protozoa that are widespread throughout the ocean. They float at various depths and many groups of the forams became extinct by the K-T boundary. Micropaleontologists have long debated whether most of the forams became extinct right at the K-T boundary or whether they started to gradually become extinct long before the boundary.
The gravitational theory of extinction that I have proposed supports the gradualist theory of foram extinction. As already pointed out, any life form that took the RGG gigantism path would become extinct when a major increase in the gravitational field occurred. The species of forams that suffered a much lower rate of extinction at the K-T boundary was the benthic variety that lived on the sea floor. Some who support the Impact Theory of Extinction would say that they survived because they were the least exposed to toxic contamination of the upper surface waters of the ocean and were able to survive on the detritus on the bottom of the ocean. I disagree. As mentioned above, bottom feeders of any kind would be the least affected by an increasing gravitational environment. The buoyancy of forms in the upper layers of the oceans was compromised by an increasing gravitational field. Photos from the National Museum of Natural History show the size contrast between early Tertiary and Later Cretaceous (Maastrichtian) forams, the latter being much larger. Some paleontologists attribute this downsizing to the Lilliput Effect. I disagree with them.
The decease in size and the survival of bottom dwelling forams are, in my opinion, a direct consequence of the gravitational change described in the theory I have written.
THE AMMONITE CONTROVERSY
Ammonites are an extinct group of marine animals. Most had spiraled shells similar to the existing nautilus but are more closely related to the squid or octopus. Their shells resemble tightly-coiled rams’ horns. A “squid in a snail shell” would be a good way to visualize them. Ammonites are believed to have lived in open seas and most, if not all, were not bottom-dwelling. It is believed that they were good swimmers with flattened, discuss-shaped shells.
They were able to control their buoyancy by being able, in effect, to pump water into their shell enabling them to ascend and descend in the water column. Few ammonites in the lower-mid Jurassic reached 9 inches in diameter. Larger forms were found in the upper Jurassic and lower Cretaceous. Some were two feet in diameter. The Largest recorded in North America was four and a half feet in diameter.
The ammonites cannot be found above the K-T boundary and therefore the gradualists/catastrophists have debated the cause of the ammonite extinction extensively. Most experts agree that ammonite diversity was decreasing before the K-T boundary. Once again, I believe that the gravitational theory I have written readily explains this. As mentioned above, ammonites started out in the early Jurassic with shells about 9 inches in diameter and eventually grew to forms with shells over four feet in diameter. In other words, they followed the RGG path to gigantism as did many other sea and land creatures. They could control their buoyancy by pumping water in and out of their shells. When the gravitational field gradually increased, their RGG gigantism, vis-a-vis their large shells, became a disadvantage in terms of buoyancy and speed. Their cousins, the squid, did not have the weight of a shell to contend with. They are still around today. It should be noted that the nautilus did not become extinct during the period when the ammonites did. This might be because they had much harder shells than the ammonites and were able to rise and descend in the water column through a much wider depth range. In other words, they were better able to compensate for a changing gravitational field.
IV. ASTEROID IMPACT?
In writing the original Gravitational Theory of Dinosaur Gigantism and Extinction (THE RISE AND FALL OF THE DINOSAURS), I did not address the Asteroid Impact Theory of extinction
because I believe that an asteroid impact near the end of the Cretaceous, if it did occur, was purely coincidental.
The proponents of this theory should be asked to explain the following questions:
1. If dinosaurs had flourished up until the impact, shouldn’t we find the remains of some dinosaur herds, rookeries or even a single dinosaur in the southwestern USA covered with a fine layer of irridium enriched mud? There would have been sand storms, mud slides and tsunamis that would have buried numerous dinosaurs. Even though finding dinosaur remains are like looking for a needle in a haystack, why haven’t paleontologists unearthed one fossil that meets this criteria?
Although the evidence for an impact at Chicxulub near the end of the Cretaceous seems very convincing, there are scientists that believe that the Chicxulub crater was formed by a lithospheric gas explosion caused by or related to the Deccan Traps volcanism in India. If they are correct, it would explain why the massive energy release of the theorized impact, which some estimate to be equivalent to the energy of 7 billion bombs the size of the one dropped on Hiroshima, doesn’t seem to correlate with the damage expected. That gas explosion theory could explain the shocked quartz, irridium spike , tsunamis and related anomalies. It would also explain what I think is another peculiar coincidence. The alleged asteroid just happened to impact a point where tectonic plate activity was very active! Also, even though it is believed the crater is in an area that was a shallow sea at the end of the Cretaceous, seeing maps with the crater halfway under land and half under sea seems unusual.
2. Why would frogs, snakes, crocodiles, lizards and birds, all animals which would be highly sensitive to a drop in temperature as well as acid-rain pollution, survive the impact and its fallout?
3. If the impact caused a “nuclear winter”, one would expect the tropical flora to be completely decimated. That doesn’t seem to have happened. Why not?
4. If the asteroid struck at the Chicxulub location, and at a low angle as many believe, directed toward the southwest U.S., why haven’t numerous pieces of the asteroid been found? I know that normally a very large asteroid that impacts vertically is vaporized in an explosive manner, but it is believed that the K-T impact was not a vertical impaction.
V. A PREDICTION
The question arises as to how one could prove that a lower gravity environment existed during the age of the dinosaurs. It would seem obvious to a lot of people that land animals that rival the Blue Whale in size could not possibly live on the land surface of the Earth today. But how does one prove this in a scientific way?
Some have tried, using allometric studies of bone size and muscle tissue, to calculate what the maximum weight would be for a land animal today. Their estimate is about 20 tons, somewhat larger than that of the largest measurement of the present-day African elephant (13-14 tons). This is far smaller than the conservative weight estimate of 80 to 100 tons for the largest sauropods.
A good theory is supposed to be capable of supporting a prediction based on the fundamentals of that theory. The following is a prediction based on the theory that I have written.
The Deccan Traps are well-known volcanic remains in India. Plate tectonic studies tell us that when the Pangean super-continent broke apart, the Indian sub-continent drifted north from a position off the west coast of Africa where Madagascar currently is, across what is now the Indian Ocean on a collision course with the Asian continent. It drifted over a hot spot, a deep volcanic plume in the ocean floor. The long lasting but intermittent volcanic eruption altered the surface of the Indian sub-continent with a flow of basaltic lava, thus forming the Deccan Traps seen in India today. Because this happened over a period of 6 to 10 million years and it also spanned the K-T boundary, we now have a natural gravity seismograph!
If geologists were to carefully examine the flow patterns of the lava along the entire length of the Deccan Traps, they should find a gradual pattern change going from a minimum at one end to a maximum at the other end. A change in gravitational force should affect the flow pattern of any fluid. I believe that verification of this flow pattern change would be sufficient to the scientific community to accept the gravitational change described in this theory.
The Gravity Theory of Gigantism and Extinction that I have presented in the earlier (2004) document entitled “The Rise And Fall Of The Dinosaurs”, supplemented with the information provided in this document, I believe, is a viable explanation for the evolution and extinction of land, air and sea animals during the Mesozoic Era. I also believe that it may explain prior mass extinctions.
I believe that the debate between the gradualists/catastrophists, specifically the adherents of the volcanism/bolide dichotomy of extinctions have overlooked the most likely cause for the K-T extinctions, the gravitational one. Anomalies associated with either of the two popular theories of extinctions disappear with the gravitational theory of extinction.
With the publication of this document, I believe the scientific community has enough information to begin to evaluate the theory I have presented.