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Palaeontology

Extinction asteroid hit 'worst possible place'

May 15, 2017 | Comment icon 5 comments



Things may have been different if the asteroid had struck elsewhere. Image Credit: NASA
Scientists have been drilling in to the crater left behind by the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs.
Rock samples recovered from beneath the Gulf of Mexico have revealed that it was perhaps not so much the size or speed of the asteroid that doomed the dinosaurs but the location at which it struck.

At the time, the area was covered in a shallow sea which meant that the impact sent huge amounts of sulphur up in to the atmosphere, extending how long the planet was trapped in a global winter.

Tragically, it is possible that the dinosaurs might have survived if the asteroid had hit elsewhere.
"Had the asteroid struck a few moments earlier or later, rather than hitting shallow coastal waters it might have hit deep ocean," said TV presenter Ben Garrod.

"An impact in the nearby Atlantic or Pacific oceans would have meant much less vaporised rock - including the deadly gypsum. The cloud would have been less dense and sunlight could still have reached the planet's surface, meaning what happened next might have been avoided."

"In this cold, dark world food ran out of the oceans within a week and shortly after on land. With nothing to eat anywhere on the planet, the mighty dinosaurs stood little chance of survival."

A documentary about the discovery, 'The Day The Dinosaurs Died', is due to air in the UK on BBC Two tonight at 21:00. It will also be available to watch on BBC iPlayer afterwards.



Source: BBC News | Comments (5)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by WoIverine 5 years ago
Thank God that asteroid didn't wipe out all life!
Comment icon #2 Posted by taniwha 5 years ago
I guess it paved the way for the birth of mankind.
Comment icon #3 Posted by paperdyer 5 years ago
I hope the line from the article, "deadly gypsum" doesn't start an uproar over all of the gypsum board used in homes.  Gypsum is calcium sulfate.  It's quite inert and that's the problem. It has many uses, but hard to get rid of.  There's only so much plaster board and cement you can make.  And per the Wiki article, this "deadly" product is in tofu.  Here's the Wiki link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calcium_sulfate
Comment icon #4 Posted by Essan 5 years ago
Gypsum is only deadly when you pulverise billions of tons of it and throw it into the atmosphere, creating a "nuclear winter"  
Comment icon #5 Posted by xxxdemonxxx 5 years ago
Tragically? Considering the extinction event opened up the path for human evolution, i wouldn't exactly call it a tragedy. Unless you're a Dino, of course. I'm sorta kinda happy to be alive at this point.


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