Scared of asteroids? This is how an asteroid crash on Earth caused dinosaurs to go extinct

What killed the dinosaurs on Earth? Was it an asteroid? This researcher says it was the after-effect of the asteroid hit. Know the whole story here.

| Updated on: Jul 29 2022, 14:16 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)
Dinosaurs and asteroid
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A giant asteroid hit around 66 million years ago and ended the era of dinosaurs on Earth. (Pixabay)

It was the day of terror for dinosaurs and all living beings on Earth, or should we say, the end of an age- the age of the dinosaurs! An asteroid crashed into Earth around 66 million years ago and drove the dinosaurs into extinction. This devastating asteroid crash, caused not just dinosaurs, but a wide range of other living beings, to vanish, including environmental and biotic organisms. Is this tale of an asteroid crash and extinction of dinosaurs true? Back in 1980, Nobel Prize-winning physicist Luis Walter Alvarez along with his geologist son Walter presented a theory that a giant asteroid had hit Earth millions of years ago and the proof of it all was the iridium-rich clay in the crashed region that it left behind. They claimed that the sudden devastation caused by the asteroid strike and its widespread secondary effects are the main reasons behind the sudden extinction of dinosaurs.

Prof. Paul Barrett, who is a dinosaur researcher at the Natural History Museum explained the story of the day when the massive asteroid, called Chicxulub, hit the Earth. He explained, “An asteroid impact is supported by really good evidence because we've identified the crater. It's now largely buried on the seafloor off the coast of Mexico. It is exactly the same age as the extinction of the non-bird dinosaurs, which can be tracked in the rock record all around the world.”

This is the same site, where the Chicxulub asteroid fell on the Earth and it is now known as the Chicxulub crater, centred in the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. The report says that the asteroid was between 10 and 15 kilometres wide, but it was the speed at which the asteroid collided that was astonishing. Why? Because it left behind a giant crater of around 150 kilometres in diameter. Shockingly, it is the second-largest crater on the Earth.

How an asteroid ended the dinosaurs-era on Earth

However, it was not just the crash that caused all the damage to the dinosaurs. It was the time period after the asteroid crash that did much more damage. Prof. Paul mentioned that the asteroid strike created a huge blast that generated killer heat waves and spewed vast amounts of material from the Earth up into the atmosphere and reduced the amount of light that reached the surface of the planet. This eventually had an impact on plant growth across the planet. According to Paul, this worked as a domino effect. The scarcity of plant life left a huge impact on the ability of herbivores to survive, and therefore carnivores too died as they had nothing to eat either!

The problem of asteroid crashes is very much there today for humanity too. Almost on a daily basis we read about some asteroid or comet making close passes to Earth. Other times we come to know of meteor fireballs in the sky with many meteorites found crashed on Earth thereafter. While space agencies like NASA are tracking these dangerous flying asteroids, and comets, there are instances when some sneak up on earth that no one knew about as had happened recently. Also, at the moment, there are very few options that humanity has to stop asteroid strikes. Till that happens, we need to worry and stay worried about the potential danger.

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First Published Date: 29 Jul, 14:06 IST