Dinosaurs were most likely killed off because they never got a good night's sleep, scientists have claimed.
Giant meteorites from outer space, fire storms, tidal waves and an ice age have all been suggested by expects to explain the demise of dinosaurs. However, the latest theory to explain their reptilian claims they did not survive because their reptilian sleeping patterns meant their brains did not learn new skills properly.
Unlike mammals and birds, reptiles are unable to experience slow wave sleep, the type of sleep believed to be responsible for boosting memories, especially those connected to performing new tasks. As a result, reptiles are much more limited in the type of complex behavior they can experience than other animals such as mammals and birds.
The implication of new research by Niels Rattenborg, of the Max Planck Institute for ornithology in Germany, is that the inability of dinosaurs--which are ancestors of modern-day reptiles--to experience slow wave sleep may have been one of the reasons why they became extinct. Slow wave--or deep wave leads to enhancements in both learning and physical performance. It effectively shuts down the parts of the brain that have learned new skills and allows this learning to become consolidated without interruption.
Without this crucial ability it could be that, when the earth experienced huge climatic changes towards the end of the era of the dinosaurs, they were unable to pick up sufficient new tricks to learn their way out of extinction.