Ended With an Asteroid: How Did the Dinosaurs Fall?

Dino Extinction

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Vinisha Sharma, Pragnya Keerthivasan, Journalist/Editor

                Everyone knows about dinosaurs and how they ruled the planet Earth for 165 million years. We know you do! But, ultimately, they went extinct. How? Volcano? Aliens? Earthquakes? Let’s get to know how it all happened, and the step-by-step explanation of their extinction.

 

                There used to be lush forests with dinosaurs gnawing on the fresh green leaves, and they lived on every mainland on Earth. They were all mostly herbivores! They also shared Earth with other reptiles, insects, frogs, turtles, snails, and small mammals. Appearing roughly 245 million years ago, they walked on 4 feet, only hind legs balancing with their tails or lived in swamps. Let’s see what dinosaurs are with some fun facts about them! Dinosaur fossils were found on all seven continents. Also, the ancient dinosaurs were meat-eaters only, but after that herbivores and omnivores appeared.

 

                For millions of years, the dinosaurs were roaming the Earth. It didn’t seem like that was going to change, but it did. What’s that in the sky? It looked like a star. It only appeared a few days ago and is getting brighter every single day. But this time, it didn’t look like a star; it looked like a tiny rock. Getting closer and closer. Finally, a cataclysm struck.

66 million years ago, an asteroid ended the dinosaurs. And here’s how it happened. 

 

                A gigantic meteorite had collided with Pangea, killing dinosaurs nearby immediately. It was felt hundreds of miles away. Then, soot, ash, and dust filled and covered the atmosphere with darkness. This caused periodic snow storms which kept making our Earth colder and colder. Herbivores consumed every leaf they could find, but the carnivores lasted longer eating their herbivorous cousin, but that didn’t last long. When there were no more innocent prey, all of them slaughtered mercilessly by the carnivores, the ravenous creatures turned on themselves, turning instantly to cannibals if they needed to. Sounds a lot like the Jurassic Hunger Games. The dust cloud diminished year by year and was gone in around 10 years. 

 

                Once the dust cloud was completely gone, the rest who were left could not survive the sweltering temperature of the sun and eventually died. This caused the extinction of the dinosaurs and two-thirds of other species on the Earth. The banging of an asteroid on the Yucatan peninsula caused the extinction of 70% of living creatures on planet Earth 66 million years ago. But how do we confidently know what had happened and where? Here’s the science about it.

 

In the late 1970s, Walter Alvarez, an American geologist, was in Italy. He was astonished by what he discovered in a layer of clay between 2 layers of rocks in the Yucatan peninsula. It marked the boundary between two geological eras. Distinctive types of rocks and rock formations marked each era. As Alvarez poked and prodded into the bottom layer of the rock, he found dinosaur fossils. After examining the upper layer of the rock, he found no such fossils. 

 

                The layer of clay must have been formed at the same time that the dinosaurs vanished. But here’s the most interesting thing: When later studied by scientists, they found iridium, which is found mostly in meteorites. He reached a conclusion when they found tektites in one sample. Tektites are formed when asteroid debris mixes with super-hot gasses. 

 

                So 66 million years ago, a giant asteroid 10 km wide slammed into the Earth and caused a rapid release of energy, which was converted into heat vaporizing rocks nearby. The vapor then expanded and exploded. In the end, an enormous crater was formed on the earth’s surface. 

 

                Some myths suggest the dinosaurs became extinct as they were becoming too big and they were not fit enough to survive any longer. But, humans can never be wiped out of the face of the Earth the way the dinosaurs fell.

 

Bibliography:

 

Enemy Asteroid By Timmons Angie

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