I am designing an alternate world where the meteorite that caused the massive dinosaurs extinction never hit Earth.
I am stuck in one point: If the massive deaths of the dinosaurs worldwide never happened, the petroleum deposits will not be the same as today?
I know the petroleum is formed with organic remains. So, if those massive amounts of corpses never decomposed into fossil fuel, will the actual deposits be more scarce? or is there no correlation at all?

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    $\begingroup$ fossil fuels are not dead dinosaurs. $\endgroup$ – John Sep 13 '18 at 3:34
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    $\begingroup$ @John a small part of those are. what-if.xkcd.com/101 $\endgroup$ – Renan Sep 23 '18 at 19:51
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    $\begingroup$ Real-world questions are on-topic so long as worldbuilding context is provided, and that has been done. I'm voting to leave the question open. However, the issue might be moot. Carlos, there is a hot debate in the world as to what actually causes petroleum deposits. Contrary to @John's bold statement, nobody actually has definitive proof - either way. And that's the problem. Nobody can prove if the age-old belief that ancient organics (not just dinosaurs) cause petroleum deposits or if one of serveral other theories are correct. I recommend you choose a solution and roll with it. $\endgroup$ – JBH Sep 23 '18 at 22:26
  • $\begingroup$ @JBH there is actually not much debate about petroleum formation, there are creationism pseudoscience about it (because if coal is dead organisms it means the earth has to be old) There used to be more debate a few decades ago but even then no one thought they came from dead dinosaurs. $\endgroup$ – John Sep 24 '18 at 2:23

The short answer is, it wouldn't make a difference. The biggest reason is the sheer amount of biomass involved. With think of dinosaurs as pretty big, but in terms of total mass, they're peanuts compared to plant life, algae, and the like.

According to this What If, which goes into some detail on where fossil fuels actually come from,

There are a few things required for oil to form, including quick burial of large amounts of hydrogen-rich organic matter in a low-oxygen environment.

These conditions are most often met in shallow seas near continental shelves, where periodic nutrient-rich upwellings from the deep sea cause blooms of plankton and algae.

Compare that to the conditions after the Chicxulub impact. Obviously anything caught in the ensuing firestorms is going to be oxidized and not form hydrocarbons. There would be massive tidal waves, which could bury land-going life including dinosaurs in an anaerobic environment. On the other hand, most of the plants are thought to have died off from dust in the atmosphere, which would leave them free to decay in the typical, non-hydrocarbon-forming way.

On the whole, although the impact might've contributed to fossil fuel formation, it would be barely a blip compared to the effects of hundreds of millions of years of accretion of biomass.

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    $\begingroup$ Precisely; the OP is forgetting that photosynthesis began 2.5 billion years ago [The Great Oxidation Event], and the Chicxulub meteor did not interrupt that hardly at all; the nuclear winter interrupted photosynthesis about 3 years, and most plants we have today evolved 100s of millions of years before that, and survived the event. Trees first appeared 390M years ago and were dominant by 300M years ago. $\endgroup$ – Amadeus Sep 13 '18 at 10:55

No real correlation at all.

Coal and other fossil fuels is from dead plants, not so much animals.

Just because dinosaurs got wiped out, it really wouldn't make any difference to oil and coal deposits


There are two theories held concerning the creation of petroleum deposits.

The first is the biogenetic theory, which can be summed up as, algae dies falls to the bottom of the ocean, is exposed to the right conditions and becomes hydrocarbons. This is an ongoing process.

The second theory is that atmospheric carbon dioxide is absorbed by the ocean, sinks to the bottom and then gets trapped in the mantle, exposed to the right comditions and forms hydrocarbons. This is also an ongoing proccess.

Ok, I lied there is a third theory which is that in a recent 2014 study both ideas work and are not mutually exclusive, so the theory is that abiogenesis and biogenesis of hydrocarbons are both ongoing processes creating petroleum.

Dinosaurs played no part in the formation of fossil fuels.


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