by Frank Wu and Ben Lethbridge

We believe Jell-O® may have played a major role in the mass extinction of the dinosaurs.

Background: The Collision

In 1979, geologist Walter Alvarez discovered unexpectedly large amounts of the metal iridium in sediments that date from the time of the dinosaur extinction. Alvarez and others have taken this to be evidence that a large object struck the earth and, directly indirectly, killed off the dinosaurs.

The Presence of Jell-O®

Trace metal analysis performed with atomic absorption spectroscopy revealed that some flavors of Jell-O® contain small but significant levels of iridium. The comet that collided with the earth, causing the dinosaur extinction, may not have been a dirty snowball or a big rock; rather, this body perhaps represents a previously unidentified class of comets called Jell-O-roids, which consist of lumpy, improperly mixed Jell-O®.

A ball of Jell-O® 10 to 12 miles in diameter (a Jell-O®-rite) impacting on the earth would likely have altered the environment, shifted the orbit of the planet, and left a world-wide trace layer of Jell-O®-borne iridium similar to that which has been detected.

Jell-O®'s Role

Several possible mechanisms could account, singly or in combination, for the mass extinction of the dinosaurs. Those related to climate change have been discussed extensively in the popular press.

The impact itself would have had an effect, as would the environmental changes brought about by widespread surface distribution of the Jell-O®.

We believe, however, that the most important factor may have been the nutritional impact of Jell-O® on animals whose digestive and circulatory systems were unprepared for it.


How Much Jell-O® Would an Apatosaurus Eat if an Apatosaurus Could Eat Jell-O?

Jell-O® contains 420 mg of sodium per 1/2-cup serving (the recommended serving size for humans). An adult apatosaurus is estimated to have had a typical weight of 60,000 lbs. Simple calculation leads to the estimate that an apatosaurus-size serving of Jell-O® would be 187.5 cups, or 43.1 liters, and would contain 472 g of salt.

An apatosaurus, drawn by the natural and artificial flavorings (especially chocolate), would daily consume 20 apatosaurus-size servings for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and between-meals snacks.

Eating this much Jell-O®, with its 9.4 kg of salt daily, would have tended to cause high blood pressure and heart disease. An apatosaurus in a sugar-induced stupor would also have been easy prey for a carnivorous T. rex or a roaming pack of raptors.

The low nutritional value of Jell-O® (which contains less than 2% of U.S. recommended daily allowances of vitamin A and C for humans and, by extrapolation, for apatosauruses) suggests that overconsumption of Jell-O® would have led the dinoaurs to death by malnutrition. Indeed, apatosaurus bones often show evidence of osteoporosis, indicating calcium deficiency. Following the demise of the large herbivores, which would have been most strongly attracted to eat Jell-O®, the entire dinosaur ecosystem would have collapsed.


Originally published in The Journal of Irreproducible Results, 1992, vol. 36, no. 5 (July/August), pp. 7-8.

9/29/98: I just found out today that Jell-O is owned by Philip Morris, the tobacco conglomerate, thus indirectly substantiating Gary Larson's theory that it was SMOKING that killed the dinosaurs.

From: Keith & Heidi Jo Burton 
Sent: January 31, 2000 
To: Frank Wu
Subject: wondering

Dear Frank Wu,
I liked your article on dinosaurs/jell-o killed them. Do you really think that that is what happened to them. I mean what if there was a flaw in your experiments? Maybe it was God wanting to create life on this planet so he created a disaster to wipe them out of his world so he could create a new species, human beings. Have you ever thought of that? I have lots of times and I think God was ready to have fun with his Godly powers and you know I think he can destroy us as quickly as he did those dinos. He was probably tired of watching these two to four  or even more legged
animals sleep, kill, and play. Maybe one day he will get tired of us sinning and take
his faithful servants to heaven where we can play, walk, and run around and not get tired.
I hope to see you up there some day, see you later!
Your writer that is waiting for you to write back,
Valerie Ann Burton

From: Lefteyeisanangel
Sent: February 05, 2000
To: Frank Wu
Subject: l;uuuuved the jello dinosaur thingy

FUNNY!!!!! MOOOOO!!!!!! COW!!!!!
do you want to join the Freaky It Club?????
write to me

from, gory jory (aka sally parker or marjorie corbman)

From K. Robinson 3/24/01

Frank Wu -
The jell-o that killed the dinos - was that strawberry or the lemon-lime? Imagine the devastation it'd been one of the rougher textured puddings such as coconut cream...
Nice web site.


From Dave Draper 9/4/01:

Hi.  Thank you so much for your dedicated research on the powers of Jell-O.  I know much about Jell-O, having been fed the gooey substance from the age of 1 year old.  (I'm over 60 now.)  Also, being from Utah, the Jell-O capitol of the world, I am distinctly qualified to acknowledge your research conclusions as correct.  If you say Jell-O killed the dinosaurs, I say Jell-O killed the dinosaurs.


Dave Draper


From Rochelle Lemke 4/1/02

Hi there! Just finishing up your story on the $400 chips and the theory on the extinction of dinosaurs in correlation with Jell-O.  I thought you would be interested in checking out these abstracts... 

The research put into the Jell-O theory as well as the tornadoes connection with mobile homes made my day.  Your $400 bag of chips was my favorite...Thanks for giggles =.)  If you would like to send me something that would be of interest please send it to ~Rochelle


From Lancelot and Serge 7/9/02

Dear Mr. Frank Wu,

Your theory that Jell-O played a significant role in the extinction of dinosaurs is bold, but I have observed some fundamental flaws in your argument.  There are certain species of dinosaurs (which I cannot be bothered looking up at the moment) which were unable to either raise or lower their necks (the theory being that they 'foraged' in shrug-like plants for sustenance.)  How then should such species be able to 'access' the Jello-O?  Certainly, I am willing to accept that in some cases, large 'globs' of it affixed themselves to shrubbery, but surely this meager and occasional intake would not be sufficient to bring about osteoporosis and/or calcium deficiency.  Furthermore, the fossil of a young rapter found in present-day Great Britain suggests a surplus of both rice pudding and biscuits, and yet neither this - nor any other British fossil - has produced evidence of 'trifle' consumption.  Now surely you  will concur with me that an English dinosaur - should he be exposed to Jell-o, would naturally consume it at the same time as custard and fruit-cocktail?
Whilst I am willing to accept that the super-continent of Pangaea made cultural boundaries nebulous during the Triassic, the rice pudding traces seem to me to suggest a far more multi-faceted extinction theory than your website offers up.  
In principle, I accept your theory, yet I feel that more research needs to be done before we can truly accept that it was Jell-o (and not rice pudding) which brought about the end of The Age of the Dinosaur.
Many thanks
Lancelot and Serge

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