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David Esker’s Buoyant Atmosphere Theory

I first came across David Esker‘s buoyant atmosphere theory back in 2017, when I was developing my own theory with an aim to explain how dinosaurs could have been as large as they were.

David Esker does an excellent job of explaining the problem at hand, so his theory is well worth a read. However, Esker comes to a strange conclusion. He refuses to consider the possibility that gravity may have been less strong at the time of the dinosaurs. Instead, he suggests that Earth’s atmosphere was thicker and more buoyant in the past. Then he goes on to congratulate himself on having solved all the mysteries related to the dinosaurs without mentioning that all these mysteries would also be solved if gravity was less strong.

It would’ve been helpful if Esker provided us with a theory as to how Earth’s atmosphere could have been as thick as is required in order to explain the dinosaurs, but he doesn’t. Instead, he points to volcanic outgassing as a likely source of the thick atmosphere. He also explains how gases are frequently compressed into liquids through industrial processes. Thick atmospheres are not impossible. However, he provides no mechanism to keep the thick atmosphere in place.

All of this would be forgivable if we were talking about a small difference in atmospheric density. But we’re not. We’re talking about a huge difference, and we cannot merely tippy toe around the problem.

Stephen Hurrell, who is as passionate as Esker about the problems related to dinosaurs, has made some calculation that indicate that the largest dinosaurs were at least twice as big as gravity would allow for today. Some calculations suggest that they were as much as three to four times too big.

Brontosaurus: by MCDinosaurhunter Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0
Brontosaurus: by MCDinosaurhunter Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

The most straight forward solution to this problem would be to suggest that gravity was somewhere between half and one quarter as strong as it is today. However, to solve this problem with buoyancy, Earth’s atmosphere would’ve had to be at least half way towards being as buoyant as water, which has a density of 1000 gram per liter. Earth’s atmosphere would’ve had to be somewhere between 500 and 800 gram per liter at the time of the dinosaurs, which is a whole lot more than the little over 1 gram per liter that it is today.

For David Esker’s theory to work, atmospheric pressure would’ve had to be 500 to 800 times what it is today, and without any mechanism to explain this difference, Esker’s theory does not seem plausible.

Meganeura, lifesize model (from Land of the dead blog)
Meganeura, lifesize model (from Land of the dead blog)

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