Scientists discovered that not only dinosaurs were affected by the asteroid that crashed into Earth. Many Antarctic creatures were found to have ceased their existence during the same time. Scientists believe that the collision effect was stronger than initially thought.
Until recently, scientists thought that the Polar Regions were too far from the collision place to be impacted by the event. A new study shows that almost 70% of Antarctic species found their end 66 million years ago, at the same time when an asteroid hit the Earth and caused dinosaur extinction.
Researchers from Seymour Island Institute together with the University of Leeds have identified over 6,000 marine fossils that are now extinct. This impressive collection of marine fossils has been dated to be 65 to 69 million years old. These creatures were living in the same period as dinosaurs.
Due to the immensity of the collection, scientists needed six years to analyze and date all the materials. The marine creatures vary from clams to snails and large marine animals. One of them is Mosasaurus, the carnivorous lizard that appeared in the 2015 movie Jurassic World.
In general, fossils are formed at the bottom of oceans and seas. The natural sedimentation buries the shells or bones and keeps them preserved. In the case of dinosaurs and other terrestrial animals, bones must be first taken by rivers and brought into oceans for them to be preserved for later discovery.
The findings of the study confirm the theory that the same asteroid that killed dinosaurs was also responsible for the extinction of the sea creatures from Antarctica. Researchers say they found a huge gap between the variety of Antarctic life during dinosaurs’ era, and the fossils found in the periods after the impact.
This dramatic change in diversity and numbers may be only the consequence of a sudden and catastrophic event.
Previous theories tried to connect the Antarctic extinction to climate changes, volcano activities, lack of food supplies, or sudden darkness. However, the discovery points out that the real cause of the event was the asteroid collision.
The Yucatan asteroid hit the Earth approximately 66 million years ago. The crater left by the impact is located near Chicxulub, in the Mexican Yucatan peninsula. It has 110 miles in diameter and goes partially into the ocean. Scientists found a gravitational anomaly there, shocked quartz and melted glass specific to meteorite impacts.
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