Dinosaurs might have survived the catastrophic impact that ended their reign had the devastating asteroid that slammed into the Earth arrived at a “more convenient time,” a scientist has claimed. As a result humans would probably not exist.
The violent collision 66 million years ago, which occurred in the area that is now Mexico, triggered tsunamis across the oceans, caused powerful earthquakes and released enough heat to start many fires.
Material thrown into the air descended as acid rain, and also blocked the sun’s warmth, cooling the Earth temporarily, perhaps by tens of degrees Celsius.
A thick blanket of dust that was thrown up darkened the globe.
The devastation wrought by the impact almost certainly explains the sudden death of the land-based dinosaurs, according to fresh analysis of the latest data.
However, one scientist on the team said the beasts might have prevailed had the asteroid struck earlier or later than it did.
Steve Brusatte, a paleontologist at Edinburgh University, was in an international team of researchers who reviewed the evidence on dinosaur extinction.
The group looked at work done on prehistoric climate and temperatures, changes in sea levels, volcanic activity and biodiversity, before reaching a consensus that the asteroid was the prime culprit.
“The asteroid almost certainly did it, but it just so happened to hit at a bad time when dinosaur ecosystems had been weakened by a loss of diversity,” Brusatte said. “If the asteroid had hit a few million years earlier, or a few million years later, then dinosaurs probably wouldn’t have gone extinct.”
The scientists’ report, published in Biological Reviews, found that while, largely, the dinosaurs were faring well at the time of the asteroid impact, the big plant-eating types, including the horned triceratops and duck-billed dinosaurs, had suffered a loss of biodiversity. There were fewer animals at the bottom of the food chain.
“The decline made those ecosystems at the very end of the Cretaceous [period], when the asteroid hit, considerably more vulnerable to collapse than those ecosystems that existed even a few million years before,” Brusatte said.
Dinosaur biodiversity rose and fell throughout their time on Earth over 150 million years.
Brusatte said he suspected that given a few million years more the large plant-eaters would have recovered, making the ecosystem more robust.
The asteroid, which was about 9.65km across, struck the Yucatan Peninsula and left a crater, the Chicxulub, measuring 19km deep by 199.5km wide.
The collision wiped out about 80 percent of the Earth’s species, though some dinosaurs survived to become the direct ancestors of birds.
“If the asteroid didn’t hit, I have no reason to believe they’d have gone extinct. And if dinosaurs didn’t go extinct, then mammals would have never had their opportunity to blossom. So if it wasn’t for that asteroid, then humans probably wouldn’t be here,” Brusatte said.
‘CONFESSED’: A court in Beijing said that former CCP member Ren Zhiqiang abused his power at a state firm and embezzled almost US$7.14 million of public funds A Chinese tycoon who called Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) a clown and criticized his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic was yesterday jailed for 18 years for corruption, bribery and embezzlement of public funds. Ren Zhiqiang (任志強) — once among the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) inner circle — disappeared from the public eye in March, shortly after penning an essay that lambasted Xi’s pandemic response. His outspokenness had earned the former chairman of state-owned property developer Huayuan Group the nickname “Big Cannon.” Yesterday’s verdict said that Ren embezzled almost 50 million yuan (US$7.4 million) of public funds and accepted bribes worth 1.25 million
AUSTRALIAN SITE: China has had a contract with SSC’s Yatharagga station since at least 2011, but the last time it used it was in June 2013. No final date has been given China would lose access to a strategic space tracking station in Western Australia when its contract expires, the facility’s owners said, a decision that cuts into Beijing’s expanding space exploration and navigational capabilities in the Pacific region. The Swedish Space Corp (SSC) has had a contract allowing Beijing access to the satellite antenna at the station since at least 2011. The station is located next to an SSC satellite station primarily used by the US and its agencies, including NASA. The Swedish state-owned company said it would not enter into any new contracts at the Australian site to support Chinese customers after
OFF BORDER ISLAND: The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel wearing a life jacket and leaving behind his shoes, indicating an intentional move, Seoul said North Korean soldiers shot dead a suspected South Korean defector at sea and burned his body as a COVID-19 precaution after he was interrogated in the water over several hours, Seoul military officials said yesterday. It is the first killing of a South Korean citizen by North Korean forces for a decade, and comes with Pyongyang at high alert over the COVID-19 pandemic and inter-Korean relations at a standstill. The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel near the western border island of Yeonpyeong on Monday, the official said. More than 24 hours later, North Korean forces located him in their waters and
The scarcity of commercial flights landing at Sydney Airport has been a disaster for airlines and workers, but for hobby pilots the COVID-19 pandemic has provided the opportunity of a lifetime. The quieter-than-usual runways mean that private pilots have been given the chance to land at the international airport for the first time. When Sydney Flight College club captain Tim Lindley put out a call, he received an overwhelming response. He eventually organized for 14 light aircraft to fly into Sydney airport on Sunday. “For a lot of the pilots involved, including myself, it was a childhood dream to land in a big