Gigantic asteroid strike on Earth killed dinosaurs 66 mn years ago - Or did it really?

A recent study has cast doubt upon the popular theory that an asteroid strike killed off dinosaurs.

| Updated on: Sep 16 2022, 21:47 IST
Asteroid which caused dinosaur extinction crashed in this spot on Earth
Dinosaurs and asteroid
1/5 The dinosaur killing asteroid was between 10.6 and 80.9 km in diameter and crashed on Earth more than 65 million years ago. It was a blessing of sorts for humans as the asteroid terraformed the Earth and made it suitable for the emergence of humanity. (Pixabay)
2/5 According to France 5, the asteroid crashed in Chicxulub, near the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico. (Pixabay)
3/5 The impact would’ve caused the formation of huge tidal waves and an impact crater almost 140KM wide. The impact would’ve caused the land material to splatter into space, changing the Earth into a nuclear winter like environment. (Pixabay)
Asteroid and Earth
4/5 Further, the impact would’ve caused massive volcanic eruptions and earthquakes. According to scientists, these apocalypse-like conditions would’ve been the major factor behind the extinction of dinosaurs. (Pixabay)
5/5 According to France 5, scientists have also discovered the origin of the asteroid which crashed-landed on Earth. It would’ve originated between the orbit of Mars and Jupiter. And although scientists say an asteroid could again impact the Earth, it is a 250-million-year cycle and is very likely to miss the lifetimes of our future generations and by the time one does come along, humans would be technologically so advanced they would be able to deal with the problem asteroid. (Pixabay)
Dinosaur extinction
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Not asteroid strikes to Earth but volcanic eruptions were the reason behind the demise of dinosaurs, claims a study. (Pixabay)

All the technology deployed in tracking and finding out details about asteroid strikes and impact on planets, especially Earth, are wrong? The most popular scientific theory says that 66 million years ago, an asteroid smashed into the Earth and caused the extinction of all dinosaurs. Top technological gadgets have been deployed to sift through the evidence to come to that conclusion. But is it really how things happened? A new study, shockingly, disagrees. According to it, asteroids had nothing to do with the demise of the dinosaur population. And contrary to popular belief, it was volcanic eruptions which contributed to the entire species of dinosaurs dying out. This might sound ridiculous, but the study has some evidence to back its claim. Read on to know what it is.

Study challenges the asteroid theory and the tech that went behind it

A large amount of data was collected by seismographs in 1996. A total of 650 kilometers of area was explored to confirm that the Chicxulub crater in the Yucatan peninsula indeed coincided with the carbon dating of the time when dinosaurs went extinct. Later, in 2005, 2D deep-penetration into the area was done using ocean bottom seismometers for a thorough analysis of the velocity of the structure. This set of data helped in identifying the sites for drilling to find the signature of the asteroid remains.

Asteroid or Volcanos: What killed the dinosaurs?

This study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). The researchers have claimed that continent-wide ‘flood-basalt' volcanic eruptions caused this mass extinction. But at the same time, the study does not denounce the asteroid's role in all of this. But for them, instead of being the main catalyst, it only added fuel to the fire.

“All other theories that attempted to explain what killed the dinosaurs got steamrolled when the crater the asteroid had gouged out was discovered,” said Brenhin Keller, assistant professor of earth sciences at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire and the co-author of the study.

And he feels sure of his assertion, backed by data. After looking at data of similar impacts causing extinction gave up inconclusive evidence, meaning that the correlation of the Chicxulub asteroid with dinosaur extinction was not a be-all end-all theory.

However, the researchers found out that four out of five mass-extinction events occurred due to volcanic eruptions. Keller said, “While it is difficult to determine if a particular volcanic outburst caused one particular mass extinction, our results make it hard to ignore the role of volcanism in extinction”.

A volcanic eruption induced extinction would be preceded by huge amounts of lava filling large parts of the surface of the Earth, making it unlivable. The carbon dioxide and other toxic gasses would also fill the atmosphere resulting in creating a large poison chamber. The soot and dust would also rise high and cover the sky to block the rays of the Sun and cause a mini ice age on the planet.

Could it be how dinosaurs died? So far there is no way to prove it and while it is a thought worth contemplating, it is also true that there is an overwhelming amount of evidence towards the fact that an asteroid did cause the extinction of the dinosaurs. Of course, the truth will be found out in the court of science.

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First Published Date: 16 Sep, 21:47 IST