Dinosaur-killing asteroid also affected Antarctic creatures
A dinosaur-killing asteroid that struck Earth over 66 million years ago, also annihilated numerous marine animals in Antarctica. The study is based on more than 6,000 marine fossils that were extinct about 65 to 69 million years ago – the same time the massive asteroid hit Earth.
A dinosaur-killing asteroid is also the reason that thousands of marine animals have disappeared from this planet. The study was conducted by scientists at the University of Leeds and the British Antarctic Survey on Seymour Island in the Antarctic Peninsula.
For over six years, the researchers studied over 6,000 marine fossils, big and small including the giant reptile Mosasaurus, dating from 65 to 69 million years ago to find out that they all died when the asteroid struck Earth.
The findings were published in the journal of Nature Communications on Thursday. Before advancing with the post, a little more about the Chicxulub crater, which changed the surface of the Earth forever:
“The Chicxulub crater is an impact crater buried underneath the town of Chicxulub in Mexico. The date of the Chicxulub impactor, which created it, coincides precisely with the Cretaceous–Paleogene boundary – around 66 million years ago. The crater is more than 180 kilometers (110 miles) in diameter and 20 km (12 mi) in depth. The Chicxulub impactor delivered an estimated energy equivalent of 100 teratonnes of TNT (4.2×1023 J), over a billion times the energy of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The impact would have caused some of the largest megatsunamis in Earth’s history that would have reached all the way to Texas and Florida. A cloud of super-heated dust, ash and steam would have spread from the crater as the impactor burrowed underground in less than a second. Excavated material along with pieces of the impactor, ejected out of the atmosphere by the blast, would have been heated to incandescence upon re-entry, broiling the Earth’s surface and possibly igniting wildfires; meanwhile, colossal shock waves would have triggered global earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. The emission of dust and particles could have covered the entire surface of the Earth for several years, possibly a decade, creating a harsh environment for living things.”
According to the experts, after studying marine fossil collection in Australia, that were impacted by the asteroid, they have come to the conclusion that it did not only kill dinosaurs – but it also destroyed over 70% of the animal population in Antarctica 66 million years ago.
Initially, scientists believed that animals in the polar regions survived the mass extinction. The University of Leeds issued a statement proudly announcing that this is the first study confirming “that the mass die-off that happened at the end of the Cretaceous Period was as rapid and devastating not only around the world, but also at the Earth’s polar regions.” The study’s co-author Andrew Glikson, a planetary scientist at the Australian National University, said in a statement:
“This is just the tip of the iceberg; we’ve only found evidence for 17 impacts older than 2.5 billion years, but there could have been hundreds. Asteroid strikes this big result in major tectonic shifts and extensive magma flows. They could have significantly affected the way the Earth evolved.”
James Witts, lead author of the study and a doctorate student at the University of Leeds, added:
“This is the strongest evidence from fossils that the main driver of this extinction event was the after-effects of a huge asteroid impact, rather than a slower decline caused by natural changes to the climate or by severe volcanism stressing global environments.”
According to Witts, the new findings also prove that the dinosaurs did not die off slowly.