The massive impact that wiped the dinosaurs off the map affected the entire planet, a new study suggests.
A new study reveals a fascinating truth about the mass extinction event that wiped the dinosaurs from the face of the Earth. According to a report from Cosmos, scientists from the University of Leeds in the U.K. have examined more than 6,000 marine fossils found in Antarctica to show that the event affected life across the entire globe.
Though scientists still debate the exact cause of the last great extinction, the study reveals that whatever it was, it was no small matter. The new study suggests the line of reasoning that blames the last great extinction on a massive asteroid impact, but others still believe the event was precipitated by climate change influenced by volcanic activity.
Scientists believed that while dinosaurs toward the middle of the Earth were likely annihilated relatively soon, the creatures living at the poles of the planet would fare better. The study reveals that life at the southern pole petered out at nearly the same time as life elsewhere on the globe.
The fossil samples were collected from Seymour Island in the Antarctic Peninsula. They dated between 69 and 65 million years old.
The findings, published in the journal Nature Communications, reveal that the number of species living in the Antarctic at that time was reduced by nearly 70 percent. The event coincides with the end of the cretaceous period some 66 million years ago.
According to lead author James Witts from the University of Leeds, “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. Clearly, a very sudden and catastrophic event had occurred on Earth.
“This is the strongest evidence from fossils that the main driver of this extinction event was the after-effects of a huge asteroid impact, rather than a slower decline caused by natural changes to the climate or by severe volcanism stressing global environments,” he added.
A press release from the University of Leeds describing the details of the study can be found here.