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Palaeontology

Killer asteroid struck at 'worst possible angle'

May 31, 2020 | Comment icon 2 comments



The dinosaurs didn't stand a chance. Image Credit: NASA
The destructiveness of the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs wasn't just down to its large size.
66 million years ago, a huge space rock slammed into the Earth. It was an event that caused such extreme and widespread devastation that it would irreparably change our planet forever.

Scientists estimate that as much as 75% of all species on Earth were wiped out by the disaster.

Much of this was due to the billions of tons of sulphur kicked up by the impact which blotted out the Sun and triggered a lengthy nuclear winter that made survival extremely difficult.

Now according to a new study, it seems that the reason the asteroid proved quite so deadly was because it slammed into the Earth at just the right angle to maximize its destructiveness.
"For the dinosaurs, the worst-case scenario is exactly what happened," said lead researcher Professor Gareth Collins from Imperial College London.

"The asteroid strike unleashed an incredible amount of climate-changing gases into the atmosphere, triggering a chain of events that led to the extinction of the dinosaurs. This was likely worsened by the fact that it struck at one of the deadliest possible angles."

"Our simulations provide compelling evidence that the asteroid struck at a steep angle, perhaps 60 degrees above the horizon, and approached its target from the north-east."

"We know that this was among the worst-case scenarios for the lethality on impact, because it put more hazardous debris into the upper atmosphere and scattered it everywhere - the very thing that led to a nuclear winter."

Source: Imperial College London | Comments (2)



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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by acute 2 years ago
I always assumed that the Chicxulub Crater was the largest impact crater on Earth, but apparently not!  That's the Vredefort Crater in South Africa.
Comment icon #2 Posted by Manwon Lender 2 years ago
Well we all should be happy this event occurred, because it is possible that the Human race may never have made it without the chance that Mammals were afforded due to the loss of all the large predators that were ruling the earth at that time. Its also a proven fact that Mammals evolved at an accelerated rate during the 10 million years after the extinction event occurred. This rate of evolution occurred 3 times faster than in years before the extinction occurred, which resulted in the varied species of mammals we have to day, including the most dangerous and destructive Man!! Peace 


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