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Climate Change Not Asteroid Strike Killed Dinosaurs, Says New Study

According to Sean Gulick, the dinosaurs did not die from the asteroid impact, but rather they did not survive the resulting extreme climate conditions.

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Updated:September 16, 2019, 2:45 PM IST
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Climate Change Not Asteroid Strike Killed Dinosaurs, Says New Study
(Image Courtesy: The Verge/Representational photo)

Researchers have now said that they have discovered new details about the day an asteroid struck Earth about 65 million years ago near Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, wiping out dinosaurs from the planet. S

Researchers have long found reason to believe that the force of the massive asteroid crash is equal to the strength of about 10 million nuclear bombs. According to NASA, the strike created a huge crater about 180 kilometers wide and 900 meters deep.

However, a new article published in VOA Learning English sees scientists blaming climate-altering events for causing the mass extinction of more than 70 percent flora and fauna at the time, including dinosaurs.

The crater remained hidden until the late 1970s, when it was first discovered beneath the ocean by a team searching for petroleum and the theory about an asteroid causing the extinction of the dinosaurs was first proposed by two American scientists in 1980.

Over the years, materials collected from the region have only confirmed the notion that an asteroid had indeed struck the place, with a team going down to drill the area beneath the crater to bring up rock samples in 2016.

One of the leaders of the expedition was Sean Gulick, a research professor at the University of Texas Institute for Geophysics, who has also led a new study that researchers say provides more evidence and details about the destruction caused by the asteroid.

The study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, involved the examination of more than 130 metres of rock believed to have been built up following the asteroid strike.

Speaking about the same in a statement, Gulick said that it tells scientists about the impact processes from an eyewitness location, adding that the rock record has offered the most detailed look till now, into the period immediately after the asteroid impact.

According to the researchers, the buildup of material was one of the largest in Earth’s history and the materials and formations in the rocks provide evidence of what was happening in the environment right after the event.

By examining the rocks, the study authors realised that most of the material that filled the crater after the strike was produced where the impact happened. This included materials that were vaporized from the blast.

The researchers also found evidence of burned material, sulphur and dust. According to them, these were vaporised and blocked the sun’s heat and caused the Earth to cool.

Furthermore, the team found material they believe came from the fungal breakdown of wood showing signs of tea and plant life that may have been drawn into the crater due to a huge wave or tsunami.

Lead author Sean Gulick said the evidence points towards the fact that a large heat blast was followed by a period of intense cooling that killed off the dinosaurs, adding, "We fired them and then we froze them."

According to Gulick, the dinosaurs did not die from the asteroid impact, but rather they did not survive the resulting extreme climate conditions.

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