Dinosaurs were all but wiped out when an asteroid believed to have been between 10-15 kilometres wide came crashing into what is now Mexico 66 million years ago. The sheer force of the impact had global consequences, and threatened to obliterate life on Earth. A detailed video from the Science Channel shows just how devastating that asteroid, known as the Chicxulub impactor as the crater was found near the Mexican town of Chicxulub, was.
The video begins by showing the impact, stating that the majority of the impact energy was directed inwards into Earth and back out into space in the form of an ejecta cloud.
Only one percent of the force travelled towards the Earth’s core, but it was “enough to ring the planet like a bell.”
The impact triggered a magnitude 11 earthquake, according to the narrator of the video.
Not only was the ensuing threat from the asteroid coming from the ground, but also the skies leaving the larger creatures with nowhere to hide.
The narrator continues: “Smaller animals take shelter underground, meanwhile an ejector cloud approaches at 16,000 km per hour, baking the Earth with unrelenting heat.
“Millions of volts of static electricity charge the cloud like a giant battery, creating a vast electrical storm.”
Superheated rocks begin to rain down on the Earth, leaving the flying dinosaurs in particular with “no way to escape the burning fire”.
The narrator said: “Just hours ago, North America was a dinosaur paradise. Now, it is a living hell.
“The ejector cloud continues it’s spread across the globe, but the effect it has on the ground varies dramatically. 12,000 kilometres away in Mongolia, the cloud rolls in silently (45 minutes after impact).
“Temperatures on the ground creep upwards, a few degrees hotter every second.
“As the air reaches 50 degrees celsius, their only hope is shelter. At 70C, survival is measured in minutes. And at over 90C, in mere seconds.
“90 minutes after impact, the temperature on the ground in Mongolia peaks at 150C.”
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It is subject to debate as to exactly how long the dinosaurs managed to survive after the initial impact.
Previous research from the University of Berkley, California, believes there is evidence to suggest that non-avian dinosaurs survived around 30,000 years afterwards, and they eventually went extinct due to the 100,000 years of drastic climate change caused by the impact.
Others however, believe the beasts died out in a matter of months, with paleontologist Ken Lacovara previously saying: “They died suddenly and were buried quickly.
“It tells us this is a moment in geological time. That’s days, weeks, maybe months.
“But this is not thousands of years; it’s not hundreds of thousands of years. This is essentially an instantaneous event.”
However, the dinosaurs’ loss was our gain.
With no large predators, small mammals which were comparable to rodents began to thrive, which eventually led to the evolution of humans millions of years down the line.
Alice Roberts, presenter of the hit BBC documentary The Day the Dinosaurs Died, said: “Chances are, if it wasn’t for that asteroid we wouldn’t be here today.”
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