Some experts have long believe that the reason for the extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago was the fall of a massive asteroid. However, the new analysis Professor of psychology at the University of Albany suggests that dinosaurs were in trouble long before the fall of the asteroid. Professor and evolutionary psychologist Gordon Gallup and his former student Michael Frederick, currently works at the University of Baltimore, argued that the emergence of toxic plants, combined with the inability of dinosaurs to associate the taste of certain foods with danger has led to the fact that their population has fallen dramatically at the time of the asteroid.
Acquired taste aversion is an evolutionary protection, which can be found in many species, in which animal learns to associate the use of plants or other food with negative consequences such as a feeling of sickness. To explain the protective mechanism, Gallup cites the example of rats.
“The reason most attempts to destroy not to succeed, is that they, like many other species, evolved to cope with the toxicity of the plants,” says Gallup. “When rats encounter a new food they usually try just a small amount, and if they are bad, they show a remarkable ability again to avoid that food because they associate the taste and smell of it with an unpleasant response.”
What the dinosaurs go extinct?
The first flowering plants, called angiosperms, appear in the fossil record long before the fall of the asteroid and just before the dinosaurs began to disappear. Gallup and Frederick argue that the development of plants and the development of toxic protection the dinosaurs kept eating them, despite gastrointestinal disorders. Although there is uncertainty as to when flowering plants became poisonous and how long it took for the distribution of this trait, Gallup and Frederick note that their appearance coincides with the gradual disappearance of the dinosaurs.
In addition to examining the distribution of toxic plants during the life of the dinosaurs, Gallup and Frederick investigated whether birds (which are considered descendants of dinosaurs) and crocodiles (also descendants) to acquire taste aversion. It turned out that the birds, instead of having to get used to the taste, he developed an aversion to the visual characteristics of that from which they were bad. They knew what they should not eat to survive. In a previous study, in which 10 crocodiles fed different types of meat, some of which were slightly toxic, Gallup found that, like the dinosaurs, crocodiles have not learned to understand the tastes.
“Although the asteroid was certainly important, psychological deficiency, because of which the dinosaurs were unable to refrain from eating certain plants for food, had a serious impact on them,” says Gallup. “A common view on the disappearance of the dinosaurs, associated with the fall of the asteroid implies that the disappearance of the dinosaurs was supposed to be sudden, but there is clearly the opposite: dinosaurs began to disappear long before the fall of the asteroid and continued to fade for millions of years after him.”