Did the oil come from the dinosaurs? Scientists deny the theory and reveal the origin

It is an engine of today’s society, a cause of wars and one of those primarily responsible for climate change.

More than 80 million barrels of oil are produced per day in the world, and its name comes from the Latin and Means “stone oil”.

Known as “black gold,” this viscous liquid is a mixture of hydrocarbons, which are compounds that contain mainly carbon and hydrogen in their molecular structure.

Oil is the product of a transformation process over millions of years.

But where did he come from? Most scientists endorse one theory and say that the origin of the oil is “well understood”. However, this did not prevent the spread of some misconceptions …

Dinosaur legend

It is estimated that about 70% of current crude oil deposits were formed in the Mesozoic or Mesozoic Era, which From 252 to 66 million years ago.

The Mesozoic era, which is divided into the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods, is also known as the age of reptiles, and dinosaurs had their heyday.

This may explain why misinformation circulates.

“For some strange reasonThe idea that the oil comes from dinosaurs has stuck with many people. But the oil comes from trillions of algae and tiny plankton.”Ryder Müller, professor of geology at the University of Oslo, told sciencenorway.no

No one knows for sure how this legend was born, but it also spread in Latin America. BBC Mundo asked two Mexican experts if they were aware of this belief.

“Yes, it’s a misconception, but it’s very common,” said Dario Solano and Isa Canales, professors in the School of Engineering at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, UNAM, in the Department of Geosciences.

“At least within our own society, we can determine that many of the rocks that generate hydrocarbons are found in layers of the Jurassic period, which is a geological time period often associated with dinosaurs and perhaps this is the relationship that helped cement the idea that this is its origin,” explained Solano.

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It is important to debunk these mythsn, firstly to help society as a whole eradicate ignorance about a commonly used and widespread material, in short, just for general culture. Secondly, through advances in understanding the origin of this resource, it will be possible to advance the development of new technologies or uses,” Canales added.

How is oil formed?

The protagonists in the oil origin story are not large reptiles but small creatures.

The most accepted theory about the origin of oil is the so-called organic theory, according to which the resource originated from Decomposition of animal remains and microscopic algae accumulated at the bottom of seas and lakes.

This theory suggests that fine sediments and organic remains are deposited in the basin, mainly terrestrial or marine plants. After certain processes, kerogen is formed, which is a mixture of these organic substances, and after a long time the pressure and temperature increase, finally forming hydrocarbon chains, UNAM scientists explained.

The accumulation of other geological layers on top of deposits of organic matter generates pressure and temperature conditions that facilitate the work of anaerobic bacteria to slowly convert organic matter into hydrocarbons with small amounts of other elements.

“Simply put, we can think that we put our mixture of materials to cook in an instant pot (that is, with certain conditions of pressure and temperature) for a long time, until the original substance is broken down into chains of carbon and hydrogen. Something similar happens in the Earth’s interior. Then the material needs to be Moving from the rocks where they are cooked to the rocks that will store them,” the Mexican experts explained.

This theory is one of the most accepted as all oil deposits are found in sedimentary terrains, moreover, They found fossil remains of animals and plants.

Where does the energy in oil come from?

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The oil can also come from the transformation of organic matter from ancient forests.

It is understood within organic theory that any kind of organic matter can be present. The Mexican scientists added that the type of hydrocarbon obtained from kerogenic materials rich in terrestrial vegetables is associated with gas deposits.

Here is another myth that needs to be cleared up. Is the energy in oil solar energy captured in photosynthesis by phytoplankton (plant organisms) and transferred to zooplankton (animal organisms)?

“No, that’s a wrong idea,” Canales said, adding:

“The energy we get today from oil is obtained by oxidation (combustion) of hydrogen and carbon chains (hydrocarbons).”

“It is true that energy and matter are interchangeable, but saying it that way sounds like phytoplankton and zooplankton are solar batteries. You could instead think of it as an analogue to how humans eat many things and our body transforms food by breaking it down through the process of our digestive system,” Solano added. Other oxidation (digestion) and our body benefits from these simpler components at the cellular level.”

alternative theories

Some scientists in the past argued that the oil has an inorganic origin and is formed deep within the earth without the need for the remains of living organisms.

Many of these theories were proposed as early as the 19th century, for example by Dmitri Mendeleev, the Russian chemist who published the first periodic table of the elements.

Inorganic theories say that within the Earth’s mantle, carbon can exist as hydrocarbon molecules, especially methane, and a large amount of the hydrocarbons found in petroleum can be generated through processes that do not require organic fossils.

These hydrocarbons can pass from the mantle into the Earth’s crust until they escape to the surface or remain in impermeable layers, forming oil deposits.

One version of these theories is that of Austrian astrophysicist Thomas Gould (1920-2004), who was a professor of astronomy at Cornell University.

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Gould published a study in 1992 in PNAS, a journal of the American Academy of Sciences, which he later expanded into a book with the same title, Deep Hot Biosphere.

about gold, Hydrocarbons on Earth are not a by-product of biological waste (“fossil fuel”), but they were a common component of the materials from which the Earth was formed about 4.5 billion years ago.

Gould admitted that the same hypothesis had already been adopted in the 1950s by Soviet scientists.

The theory of the inorganic origin of petroleum has not been accepted by the majority of scholars

“We dare, speaking on behalf of our colleagues in the academic and scientific community, to say that theories of inorganic origin have not been successfully tested and in this way it was not possible to generate the hydrocarbon in the laboratory,” UNAM experts said.

last question?

Since the organic theory of the origin of petroleum is the most widely accepted, some readers may be asking themselves this question.

If dinosaurs lived at the same time as oil in the Mesozoic Era, it may have happened that their remains, the organic matter of the dinosaur, fell to the bottom of the sea or shallow lakes and suffered a process of compression and transformation, turning into oil.

“Correctly, we can say that any organic matter can be present in the generation of oil,” the UN mission experts said.

“However, it is important to note that oil generation is a very delicate process, and very large quantities of the substance are required, which was only possible due to the large amounts of plankton in the sea, so volumes from other assets are not that important.”

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BBC-NEWS-SRC: https://www.bbc.com/mundo/noticias-65636174, import date: 2023-05-20 11:30:06

Aileen Morales

"Beer nerd. Food fanatic. Alcohol scholar. Tv practitioner. Writer. Troublemaker. Falls down a lot."

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