The humble tropical honeybee may challenge the idea that a post-asteroid impact "nuclear winter" was a big player in the decimation of dinosaurs 65 million years ago.
Somehow the tropical honeybee, Cretotrigona prisca, survived the end-Cretaceous extinction event, despite what many researchers believe was a years-long period of darkness and frigid temperatures caused by sunlight-blocking dust and smoke from the asteroid impact at Chicxulub.
The survival of C. prisca is problematic and telling, asserts paleontology graduate student Jacqueline M. Kozisek of the University of New Orleans. Late Cretaceous tropical honeybees preserved in amber are almost identical to their modern relatives, she says. If no modern tropical honeybee could have survived years in the dark and cold without the flowering plants they lived off of, Kozisek reasoned, something must be amiss with the nuclear winter theory. "It couldnt have been that huge," says Kozisek of the Chicxulub-related temperature drops asserted by other researchers.
Ann Cairns | EurekAlert!
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