Scientists Find Evidence Generated by ‘Dino-Killing’ Asteroids
Earth has been around for billions of years and in that time it has seen its fair share of drastic and catastrophic events. From volcanoes to earthquakes and even deadly asteroids, the planet has been through a lot. But few events can compare to the sheer destruction caused by a massive asteroid impact 65 million years ago.
This devastating event, which has become known as the KT extinction event, wiped out entire species – including the beloved dinosaurs – and created a line in the fossil record marking one of Earth’s most drastic transitions. Now, after years of searching, scientists believe they can finally solve the puzzle of how such a tremendous event occurred.
In a recent study published in the journal Scientific Reports, scientists have discovered direct evidence of asteroid impact that supports the theory of an asteroid causing the extinction of the dinosaurs. The data was gathered from drill sites in the Gulf of Mexico and helps to prove that a massive asteroid struck the planet about 65 million years ago.
The study’s lead author, Sean Gulick, said the findings “confirm the impact hypothesis.”
Background of the ‘Dino-Killing’ Asteroid Theory
Since the early 1980s, scientists have hypothesized that an asteroid strike caused the KT extinction event. This theory was first proposed by physicist Luis Alvarez, who believed an asteroid impact could have been responsible for wiping out the world’s large animals at the time.
This hypothesis was bolstered by the discovery of the Chicxulub crater in Mexico, which is believed to be the impact site of a massive asteroid. Later studies of the fossil record suggested that the extinction event was likely caused by a volcanic winter, where soot and pollution blocked out the Sun’s rays and starves the planet of energy.
However, these theories were mainly based off of circumstantial evidence, leaving scientists with many unanswered questions regarding the true cause of the KT extinction event. That is, until now.
Direct Evidence of Impacts
In order to gain a better understanding of what happened during the extinction event, the team of scientists embarked on a multi-stage mission to drill deep into the sediment of the Gulf of Mexico. They used ships that had been outfitted with wells that allowed them to drill down to a depth of over one kilometer.
At this depth, the scientists made an incredible discovery – a layer of sediment that contained shocked quartz, melted glass, and other debris. This debris is believed to have been created by the violent, high-energy force of an asteroid impact.
In addition to the shocked quartz and melted glass, the drill sites also contained the fossils of smaller creatures that were killed during the event, providing further proof of an asteroid strike.
What This Means for Understanding the Extinction Event
The discovery of the asteroid impact debris is an incredibly significant one. It is the first time scientists have been able to find direct evidence of a massive asteroid strike from the time period around the KT extinction event.
This new, direct evidence lends further credibility to the theory that an asteroid had a hand in wiping out the dinosaurs. It also helps to fill in some of the great unknowns of the extinction event, including the exact time and speed of the asteroid, which were previously unknown.
Understanding the KT extinction event is important for a number of reasons, including providing a better understanding of the planet’s geologic history and an insight into the effects of climate change and the fossil record.
Now that the asteroid impact has been proven, the team is continuing the mission to learn more about the asteroid and the aftermath. The scientists will be working on studying the debris and fossils collected during the mission to learn more about what happened during the extinction event.
Ultimately, the researchers hope to be able to reconstruct the asteroid’s size, speed, and trajectory to gain a better understanding of what doomed the dinosaurs.
The KT extinction event was one of the most catastrophic and influential events in Earth’s history, wiping out entire species including the beloved dinosaurs. For years, scientists have sought to answer the question of what caused this event. Now, after drilling deep into the Gulf of Mexico, scientists have finally found direct evidence of asteroid impact that is believed to be responsible for the extinction of the dinosaurs. While many questions remain, the results from the study have provided an important step forward in gaining a better understanding of the KT extinction event and its place in Earth’s geologic record.