Saturday August 24, 2019
Home Lead Story Asteroid That...

Asteroid That Wiped Out Dinosaurs, Fossils Reveal The Story Of Extinction

"This is the death blow preserved at one particular site. This is just spectacular," said Purdue University geophysicist and impact expert Jay Melosh, who wasn't part of the research but edited the paper released Friday by the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

0
//
Fossils
A model of a Tyrannosaurus rex is on display in the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science in Albuquerque, N.M. VOA

New research released Friday captures a fossilized snapshot of the day nearly 66 million years ago when an asteroid smacked Earth, fire rained from the sky and the ground shook far worse than any modern earthquake.

It was the day that nearly all life on Earth went extinct, including the dinosaurs.

The researchers say they found evidence in North Dakota of the asteroid hit in Mexico, including fish with hot glass in their gills from flaming debris that showered back down on Earth. They also reported the discovery of charred trees, evidence of an inland tsunami and melted amber.

Separately, University of Amsterdam’s Jan Smit disclosed that he and his colleagues even found dinosaur footsteps from just before their demise.

fossils
There were only a few dinosaur fossils from that time, but the footsteps are most convincing, Smit said. Pixabay

Smit said the footprints — one from a plant-eating hadrosaur and the other of a meat eater, maybe a small Tyrannosaurus Rex — is “definite proof that the dinosaurs were alive and kicking at the time of impact … They were running around, chasing each other” when they were swamped.”

“This is the death blow preserved at one particular site. This is just spectacular,” said Purdue University geophysicist and impact expert Jay Melosh, who wasn’t part of the research but edited the paper released Friday by the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Melosh called it the field’s “discovery of the century.” But other experts said while some of the work is fascinating, they have some serious concerns about the research, including the lack of access to this specific Hell Creek Formation fossil site for outside scientists.

Hell Creek — which spans Montana, both Dakotas and Wyoming — is a fossil treasure trove that includes numerous types of dinosaurs, mammals, reptiles and fish trapped in clay and stone from 65 to 70 million years ago.

Kirk Johnson , director of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History who also has studied the Hell Creek area for 38 years, said the work on the fish, the glass and trees “demonstrates some of the details of what happened on THE DAY. That’s all quite interesting and very valid stuff.”

But Johnson said because there is restricted access to the site, other scientists can’t confirm the research.

tyrannosaurus
Melosh called it the field’s “discovery of the century.” But other experts said while some of the work is fascinating, they have some serious concerns about the research, including the lack of access to this specific Hell Creek Formation fossil site for outside scientists. Pixabay

Smit said the restrictions were to protect the site from poachers.

Johnson also raised concerns about claims made by the main author, Robert DePalma, a University of Kansas doctoral student, that appeared in a New Yorkermagazine article published Friday but not in the scientific paper.

DePalma did not return an email or phone message seeking comment.

For decades, the massive asteroid crash that caused the Chicxulub crater in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula has been considered the likely cause of the mass extinction often called the “KT boundary” for the division between two geologic time periods. But some scientists have insisted that massive volcanic activity played a role. Johnson and Melosh said this helps prove the asteroid crash case.

There were only a few dinosaur fossils from that time, but the footsteps are most convincing, Smit said.

There was more than dinosaurs, he said. The site includes ant nests, wasp nests, fragile preserved leaves and fish that were caught in the act of dying. He said that soon after fish die they get swollen bellies and these fossils didn’t show swelling.

Also Read: “Indian Audiences Play an Important Role in Making of Avengers Endgame,” Say Russo Brothers

The researchers said the inland tsunami points to a massive earthquake generated by the asteroid crash, somewhere between a magnitude 10 and 11. That’s more than 350 times stronger than the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.

Purdue’s Melosh said as he read the study, he kept saying “wow, wow, what a discovery.”

The details coming out of this are “mind-blowing,” he said. (VOA)

Next Story

Earth’s Rapid warming in Late 20th Century Far More Widespread than Any Temperature Variations

Published in the journal Nature, it found that previous major climate events were confined to certain areas

0
In this image made from video, climate change protesters block the car containing Britain's Conservative Party leader Boris Johnson on his way to meet the Queen in London, July 24, 2019. VOA

Earth’s rapid warming in the late 20th century was far more widespread than any temperature variations during the previous 2,000 years, according to a study published on Wednesday that shows how profoundly humans have altered the climate.

The study crunched data covering two millennia from almost 700 sources ranging from tree rings and coral to sediments and ice cores.

Published in the journal Nature, it found that previous major climate events were confined to certain areas, and not global phenomena as scientists had previously assumed, said one of its co-authors, Columbia University climate scientist Nathan Steiger.

“The main takeaway is that climate variability in the contemporary period is very different than what’s happened in the past 2,000 years,” he said.

Earth, Warming, Temperature
Earth’s rapid warming in the late 20th century was far more widespread than any temperature variations during the previous 2,000 years. Pixabay

Natural phenomenon?

Some people who question whether burning coal, oil and gas is causing global warming point to evidence of prolonged shifts in climatic conditions in past centuries to argue that today’s higher temperatures may also be a natural phenomenon.

Previous shifts include the “Medieval Climate Anomaly” from 800-1200 AD when temperatures rose, and the “Little Ice Age” from around the 1300s to the 1850s when Britons skated on the frozen River Thames.

But the study, which measured readings from zero to 2,000 AD, showed that some of the coldest temperatures during that period were more localized, occurring in parts of the Pacific in the 15th century and in northwestern Europe and southeastern North America in the 17th.

Also Read- Deep Distrust Severely Undermines Efforts by Public Health Authorities in Congo

By contrast, the researchers found that the rapid rise in average temperatures in the closing decades of the last century affected more than 98% of the planet.

“This is definitely further evidence that fossil fuels and anthropogenic activity actually has fundamentally changed the climate,” Steiger told Reuters.

Volcanic activity 

Mark Maslin, professor of climatology, at University College London (UCL) said the paper should “finally stop climate change deniers claiming that the recent observed coherent global warming is part of a natural … cycle.”

Earth, Warming, Temperature
The study crunched data covering two millennia from almost 700 sources ranging from tree rings and coral to sediments and ice cores. Pixabay

A parallel study published in Nature Geoscience found that pre-industrial fluctuations in temperature were primarily driven by volcanic activity.

Also Read- Kenya’s Parliament to Nationalize Country’s Main Airline Kenya Airways

The studies were released less than a week after temperature data from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration showed last month was the hottest June globally in 140 years. (VOA)