The extinction of dinosaurs is one of the most hotly debate topics among paleontologists across the world.
Thanks to Hollywood’s impressive portrayal of these giants that once ruled the planet, ‘dinosaur wipeout’ is a topic that also generates plenty of interest among the casual science buff.
And researchers seem to have finally stumbled across a definitive answer.
A huge asteroid that crashed into the earth’s surface some 66 million years ago was the reason for the mass extinction of both dinosaurs and half of all the plant and animal species on Earth at the time.
While the theory has always been hypothesized, Johan Vellekoop from the Utrecht University in the Netherlands uncovered the first significant physical evidence that supports it.
Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula is believed to be the point of impact and the large dust cloud and tsunamis because of the asteroid led to decades of ‘cold winters’ that wiped the mega-reptilians.
The sand and rick samples taken from the marine sediments that marked the end of the Cretaceous period showed a significant sand and shell content.
While that offered definitive proof of a tsunami at the time, it was the high concentrations of iridium that sealed the deal. The rare metal is associated to outer space bodies like asteroids and a sudden, significant spike in its content showed how the asteroid impact and the dinosaur extinction were correlated events.
Study of lipid-cells in fossil remains of organisms at the time also showed that the global ocean temperatures dipped to 7 degrees on an average and the ocean was probably a lot colder in many regions. It was this period that rung in the death knell for the dinosaur rule!