Despite the extreme climate,in which the world is today, you and I are incredibly lucky to live in the 21st century, and not in the Cretaceous era. Just then, 65 million years ago, a giant asteroid crashed into our planet, the impact of which is comparable to that of a million atomic bombs. Not surprisingly, the consequences were catastrophic. In 2010, the journal Science published the work of an international team of researchers who for 20 years studied the possible causes of the mass extinction of those years. Scientists came to the conclusion that the fall of the asteroid triggered a series of chain reactions that led to disaster. Today, the amount of evidence has increased significantly. But what do scientists know about this asteroid?
Asteroids - the cause of mass extinctions
It’s no secret to any of us that massiveextinctions do not occur overnight - it is a long process that can take millennia. Although we are bombarded daily with small fragments of stones from the solar system that enter the atmosphere, our planet usually reaches asteroids of very small size or not large enough to cause any significant damage. Nevertheless, it is clear to scientists that sooner or later a similar catastrophe will happen again.
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If a celestial body with a diameter of 15 kilometersIf it collides with the Earth, then in a matter of seconds it will destroy several kilometers of the surface. Such a blow can provoke hot flashes and form a cloud of dust that will cover the Sun for tens or hundreds of years. Can you imagine a similar scenario? But 65 million years ago, animals felt all these consequences on themselves. According to experts, if a similar asteroid crashes into our planet today, then a crater with a diameter of 200 kilometers will form as a result of the impact, and a series of events will occur that will cause a global winter that can destroy most of life on Earth in a matter of days. In addition, the fall of an asteroid can cause tsunamis and earthquakes.
For many years, some scientists continuedIt is believed that dinosaurs, pterosaurs and other species became extinct 65 million years ago due to a series of volcanic eruptions in modern India, which lasted about 1.5 million years. The eruption of Deccan traps (unusually active volcanoes) threw enough basaltic lava to fill the Black Sea twice, which could cause global cooling of the atmosphere and acid rain.
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And yet this hypothesis should not contradictthe fall of an asteroid. For example, a study by scientists from the University of California, published in early 2019, shows how exposure to an asteroid can cause “simultaneous” volcanic eruptions on the other side of the world (Mexico and India are almost opposite to each other). According to available data, marine and terrestrial ecosystems were quickly destroyed during the disappearance of the Cretaceous Paleogene, which does not correspond to the theory of volcanoes. But there is also strong evidence that the gases emitted during the eruptions after the impact could have caused global warming in the last 400 thousand years of the Cretaceous. By the way, we recently told you about why destroying an asteroid that can destroy our civilization is not as simple as we thought.