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For a long time, it was believed that the extinction of dinosaurs was caused by an asteroid. However, new research suggests that another factor may have had a greater impact than previously believed.
Approximately 66 million years ago, a large asteroid, with a diameter ranging from 10 to 15 kilometers, collided with Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. This event resulted in widespread destruction, triggering wildfires, earthquakes, and massive tsunamis. As a result, the ecosystem was severely disrupted, causing the extinction of many plants and animals that were thriving in the area.
According to a recent report from Nature Geoscience, scientists argue that previous investigations have overlooked the significance of a certain factor: the enormous amount of dust that may have been ejected into the atmosphere upon impact of the asteroid, which could have had a devastating impact on numerous dinosaur species.
According to Belgian researchers, the asteroid may have triggered a “global winter” by creating dark clouds of silicate dust and sulphur in the atmosphere. These clouds were believed to have blocked the sun’s rays, resulting in a significant drop in global surface temperature of up to 15C.
The absence of light would have made it difficult for plants to survive, resulting in starvation for herbivores and a lack of prey for carnivores. This would have led to a major extinction event, with 75% of species on the food chain disappearing.
It is estimated that the volume of dust choking the atmosphere was approximately 2,000 gigatonnes, which is over 11 times the weight of Mount Everest.
Scientists conducted computer simulations on sediment samples from a fossil location in North Dakota. The results showed that the particles could have caused a blackout of the sun lasting up to two years and remained in the atmosphere for 15 years, resulting in a decrease in plant photosynthesis and the eventual collapse of the ecosystem.
The research indicates that the asteroid, although causing a significant initial impact, did not promptly wipe out the dinosaurs. Instead, it gradually led to their extinction over a period of several years.
Some scientists theorize that the asteroid’s impact could have similar consequences as a nuclear bomb detonation on Earth.
According to a study conducted by Professor Cherly Harrison of Louisiana State University and published last year, it is forecasted that the release of smoke and black carbon into the atmosphere could result in a “Nuclear Little Ice Age,” causing the sun to be obscured.
Although dinosaurs perished in a catastrophic event approximately 66 million years ago, their extinction potentially played a significant role in the evolution of humanity.
According to Philippe Claeys, a planetary scientist and co-author of the study, dinosaurs were thriving on Earth before the meteorite impact.
“Excluding the influence, I assume that mammals, including humans, had a minimal likelihood of becoming the predominant organisms on Earth.”