Climate change kept plant-eating dinosaurs from tropics, study says

Since decades scientists have been trying to solve the mystery of missing tropical dinosaurs. They have always struggled to identify the factors that stopped dinosaurs from colonizing the tropics. However, now it seems that a group of researchers have finally found a suitable explanation.

According to the research team, climate change was responsible for keeping dinosaurs away from the tropics. The team believes that extremely high levels of greenhouse gases made the tropics uninhabitable for the biggest terrestrial beasts ever to live on this planet.

The study presenting the above findings was published on Monday’s edition of science journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The said study compared geographic distribution of dinosaurs belonging to the Triassic-era; during the study, researchers used data detailing the environmental features of that time. Using those facts and figures, the researchers wanted to identify the factors responsible for the absence of remains of dinosaurs in Triassic rocks found in tropical regions.


The gigantic plant-eating dinos belonging to the early dinosaur era used to roam around the upper and middle latitudes of our planet. However, the tropics were home to only a few smaller meat-eating dinos.

Scientists are now saying that the primary reason behind such geographic distribution of dinosaurs is the harsh climatic conditions of the tropics that made life difficult for many dinosaur species.

The study was conducted by researchers representing nine prominent institutions including the University of Southampton in the UK. During the study, scientists analyzed a wide variety of fossils; the results of the analyses indicated dramatic climate changes, primarily in the tropics.

The researchers came to know that extremely high temperature and drought resulted in occurrence of epic wildfires in the tropical region. Destruction of plants due to the wildfires made life difficult for the plant-eating dinos as they were struggling to find enough food to survive.

Randal Irmis, one of the study’s coauthors, said that the dinosaurs were growing fast and thus needed resources in big amounts. According to Irmis, the unpredictable hot and dry climatic conditions of the tropics resulted shortage of food supply; he added that food supplies were further reduced due to frequent wildfires, which cleaned up large forest areas. Irmis works at the Department of Geology and Geophysics of the University of Utah.