- Scientists are looking for the causes of the extinction of the dinosaurs
- A new analysis found that dust from pulverized rock caused a nuclear winter
- READ MORE: Dinosaurs may NOT have been wiped out by an asteroid
Scientists announced Monday that it was not the asteroid impact that killed the dinosaurs 66 million years ago, but ejected debris played a crucial role.
The statement comes from a team led by the Royal Observatory of Belgium, which found that dust from pulverized rock was thrown into Earth’s atmosphere, blocking the sun and hindering plant photosynthesis.
New modeling showed the amount of dust was about 2,000 gigatons – more than 11 times the weight of Mount Everest – and remained there The atmosphere persists for up to 15 years, causing a global nuclear winter.
As a result, vegetation would have died, leading to the extinction of many herbivorous species, including some dinosaurs catastrophic mass extinction in which 75 percent of all living things disappeared from the earth.
Scientists announced Monday that it was not the asteroid impact that killed the dinosaurs 66 million years ago, but ejected debris played a crucial role
Since the discovery of Chicxulub Crater in 1978, scientists have been working tirelessly to unravel the mystery of the dinosaurs’ extinction.
However, the geological formation is not enough to conclude that the massive asteroid was enough to drive the dinosaurs to extinction.
The leading theory lately has been that sulfur from the asteroid’s impact — or soot from the global wildfires it sparked — blocked the skies and plunged the world into a long, dark winter that killed all but the lucky few.
However, research published Monday based on particles found at a critical fossil site confirmed an earlier hypothesis: dust kicked up by the asteroid caused the impact winter.
The particles were found at the Tanis fossil site in the US state of North Dakota.
Although the site is 1,965 miles from the crater, several notable finds remain that are believed to have been formed in the sedimentary layers of an ancient lake immediately after the asteroid impact.
The researchers said the dust particles were about 0.8 to 8.0 micrometers in size – just the right size to remain in the atmosphere for up to 15 years.
By inputting this data into climate models similar to those of Earth today, the researchers concluded that dust likely played a far larger role in the mass extinction than previously thought.
They estimated that of all the material the asteroid shot into the atmosphere, it was 75 percent sulfur, 24 percent and soot 1 percent.
Sean Gulick, a geophysicist at the University of Texas at Austin and not involved in the research, told AFP that the study was another interesting attempt to answer the “hot question” – what caused the winter’s effects – but delivered no definitive answer.
He emphasized that to understand the past and future, it is important to find out what happened during the world’s last mass extinction.
“Perhaps we can better predict our own mass extinction, which we are probably in the midst of,” Gulick said.