Discovery says to have revealed the exact events of the extinction of the dinosaurs.
As we know, about 66 million years ago the shock of an asteroid with the terrestrial surface in the region where today is the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico, was responsible for the extinction of the dinosaurs.
But, according to a study to be published this week by the National Academy of Sciences, new findings make it possible to know what exactly happened at the time soon after the impact.
The discovery was made by a group of researchers led by Robert DePalma, curator of paleontology at the Palm Beach Natural History Museum in Florida, and a Ph.D. at the University of Kansas.
The discovery was made at a North Dakota excavation site known as Tanis, where the researcher works since 2013.
According to DePalma, it was possible to find fossilized remains of fish in a soil layer dating from the time of the end of the dinosaurs, creatures resembling mollusks known as ammonites, a marine reptile known as mosasaurs, as well as terrestrial animals such as various mammals and even a triceratops.
Together with these fossils were also pieces of burnt bark of wood, as well as small glass rocks, known as tealights.
For DePalma, this finding helps to understand better what events occurred after the impact of the asteroid with the planet, which signified the end of the Cretaceous period and the beginning of the Paleogene, leaving a geological signature known to archaeologists as Level K- Pg.
This is because never before has a large sample of different organisms been found in one place, representing different species at various stages of life, which were associated with the K-Pg Level, having all died together at the same time.
When studying the soil where these fossils were found, DePalma states that, along with his colleagues, he was able to reconstruct the entire sequence of events that occurred shortly after the impact.
Mark Richards, a professor of space sciences at the University of Washington, and Walter Alvarez, a professor at the University of Berkeley in California, known for being the first scientist to come up with the hypothesis of asteroid fall as the extinction event of the dinosaurs on the planet.
According to the findings of the three researchers, it all started with the asteroid crash, which with the impact would have created huge tsunamis and a quake strong enough to be rated as somewhere between 10 and 11 of the current Richter Scale.
The mixing of these giant waves with a tremor capable of dividing continents eventually created a body of water with seiches (stationary waves) in the place known as the Western Inner Sea, and it would be the slow movement of these seiches responsible for the separation of America from the other continents.
In addition to the quake and tsunamis, the asteroid’s impact would also have thrown into the atmosphere a massive amount of molten rock from where the asteroid collided with the planet.
This theory is confirmed by the high presence of Iridium (rare metal on the earth but very common in space bodies) at the excavation site, which proves that the fossils found there were directly related to the asteroid that hit the planet.
From then on, the devastation of the region occurred very quickly. That’s because even though the impact-generated tsunami took a few hours to get there (North Dakota is well north of the United States, bordering Canada), seismic impact waves affected the environment in a matter of minutes.
The final act of all this destruction occurred as the rocks, which almost came out of orbit with such a strong impact, fall back into the Earth in a “fire rain” due to the high temperature of these rocks, causing huge fires all over the planet, which eventually killed the rest of the creatures that survived the tsunamis and seismic waves – either by the impact of the fall of these rocks, by the fire they generated, by the excessive inhalation of smoke or by the end of virtually all of the possible feeding of these creatures, which have become only ashes.
Despite the fascinating discovery, some archaeologists doubt the conclusions the three researchers reached, even before the study was officially published.
One such critic is paleontologist Kenneth Lacovara, who used Twitter to point out that there are several inconsistencies in the story told by newspapers, and that everything may be a case where a researcher exaggerates his findings in search of fame.
For now, it is necessary to wait until the discovery of DePalma is officially published and can be critically analyzed by the entire community of paleontology so that we can reach a conclusion about the validity or not of what he is saying, but even in the criticisms it is possible to see evidence that even if the researcher is giving an exaggeration in his findings, he is still on a path that can change our knowledge about the event that extinguished the dinosaurs and forever changed the destiny of the planet.