May 28, 2016 by staff
Dinosaur-Killing Asteroid, When a catastrophic asteroid hit the planet 66 million years ago, scientists believed that creatures in what we now call the South Pole fared pretty well.
But a newanlysis suggests that the dinosaur-killing asteroid also annihilated many marine animals in Antarctica.
Scientists at the University of Leeds and the British Antarctic Survey on Seymour Island in the Antarctic Peninsula recently completed testing to determine the age of more than 6,000 marine fossils. They dated from 65 to 69 million years ago — meaning the creatures died around the same time a powerful asteroid struck Earth.
The research, published in the journal of Nature Communications on Thursday, is giving scientists more insight into one of the greatest mass extinctions on the planet.
This is the first study to argue that the mass die-off that happened at the end of the Cretaceous Period was as rapid and devastating not only around the world, but also at the Earth’s polar regions, according to a statement by the University of Leeds.
Originally, scientists believed that animals in the polar regions were far enough away from the source of the mass extinction to be harmed.
However, new data reveals there was about a 70% reduction of the animal population in Antarctica 66 million years ago, meaning the deaths of these creatures was sudden and widespread.
“Our research essentially shows that one day everything was fine — the Antarctic had a thriving and diverse marine community — and the next, it wasn’t,” said James Witts, lead author of the study and a doctorate student at the University of Leeds.
“Clearly, a very sudden and catastrophic event had occurred on Earth,” he said.
In addition, the new fossil evidence solidifies the case that the dinosaurs died because of an asteroid plunging into the Gulf of Mexico, rather than environmental changes due to volcanic activity.
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