Kids love dinosaurs, don’t they? I did when I was young. Like many others my age I sat in awe watching Jurassic Park, but my obsession delved far deeper than that: collecting magazines and reading books on the giant lizards.
Like most people with more than a passing interest on the subject, I was always intrigued as to just what happened to the giants that once ruled our planet. I always wanted to know why dinosaurs died.
So what killed the kings of the earth?
Well, scientists in Germany claim that they have finally solved that mystery. Their theory isn’t an unfamiliar one either. The destruction of the dinosaurs was caused by an asteroid. However far from just a haphazard guess, their theory goes into a lot of detail.
It comes on the back of them studying the Chicxulub crater in Yucatan, Mexico. The German scientists unearthed more than 200 rocks to send back to their native Germany. Once there they were studied at the University of Bremen.
Following these studies, the scientists were able to complete a detailed report on the demise of the dinosaurs.
That’s a big chunk of rock
According to their findings, an asteroid measuring roughly 9 miles wide crashed into the earth at a speed of 40,000 mph. Anything it hit would have been instantly obliterated. One of the results of this would have been a massive fireball of debris burning at an impressive 10,000 degrees Celsius. This would have covered approximately 600 miles. This would have wiped out all dinosaurs in that radius.
But that was just the initial destruction the impact also caused huge chunks of the earth’s crust to shatter and be launched into the air. This had two consequences. Firstly as it crashed back down into the sea it would have caused probably the biggest tsunami our planet has ever seen but also the resulting debris would have hung in the air blocking out most of Earth’s sunshine.
It didn’t have to be this way
Perhaps the cruellest of ironies here is that if the rock had hit in a different location it might not have set off the same chain of events. The asteroid wasn’t particularly big in the grand scheme of things. It’s just the location that it hit which made it so catastrophic.
Professor Alice Roberts tells the story: As the clouds, dissipated plants were able to flourish once more. Following on from this, smaller animals that were not affected by the blast were able to come out of hiding and evolve. Effectively they inherited the planet. With an empty planet to populate these life forms were able to succeed. It took a mere half a million years, a tiny period of time in the grand scheme, for mammals to populate the earth and make it their own.
But will this suffice?
Something tells me that this may not put to bed other rumours regarding the end of the dinosaurs. I mean don’t get me wrong this is a fairly elegant solution. I mean it’s not like they are trying to pin the blame on the Illuminati! Or suggest something crazy like they were killed by an errant time-traveller.
Having said that it still feels a little contrived. To know that if the asteroid had hit elsewhere that the dinosaurs may have survived. I mean what are the odds on that?
I guess when you look at the time the species dominated for then perhaps the odds aren’t as large as you might guess at first. But ultimately we weren’t there so there will always be some mystery involved.