The researchers from the University of Sheffield, UK, and Southwest Texas State University and Pennsylvania State University, US, studied the fossilised pores of leaf of gingkoes and ferns that grew around the time of the dinosaurs' demise. The number of carbon dioxide-absorbing pores in the fossils reflects the amount of carbon dioxide in the air: the fewer the pores, the more carbon dioxide.
By using computer simulations and doing real experiments on plants, the scientists can show there was a sudden, five-fold increase in CO2 at the end of the Cretaceous.
This can only be explained, they believe, by the sudden vaporisation of between 6,400 and 13,000 billion tonnes of carbon - a substantial component of the limestone rocks that lined the shallow sea that existed at Chicxulub 65 million years ago.
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