Scientists Confirm Asteroid That Wiped Out Dinosaurs Also Affected Antarctic Ecosystem
Up until recently, many scientists believed that the catastrophic event which consigned the dinosaurs to extinction had little effect on the marine animals living in what we now know as Antarctica. It was thought that they were too far away from the impact site (on the Yucatán Peninsula) to be affected and therefore must have died out through other means. However, a recent study by the University of Leeds and the British Antarctic Survey has proved the opposite.
In a meticulous piece of research which took over six years to complete, experts analysed around 6,000 fossils. They ranged from tiny snails to the gigantic Mosasaurus, which featured in the latest reboot from the Jurassic Park film franchise, and proved painstaking to process. But the results are conclusive and reveal that the impact of this extinction-level event was far worse and more widespread than we previously thought.
We already know that the asteroid hit the earth 66 million years ago and findings of the study show that this is around the same time that marine creatures in the Antarctic also disappeared. The fossils were dated to between 65 and 69 million years ago and are drastically different to those found from the period immediately after this. When combined with the fact that the data shows a 70% reduction in the population at this time, everything points to a sudden and calamitous occurrence.
Lead author of the study, James Witts, was quoted in saying "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." As well as solving the quandary of whether these animals were killed by the same thing that ended the days of the dinosaurs, the research backs up the theory that this event was indeed an asteroid. The fossils show that the species died out far too quickly for it have been caused by environmental changes, lack of food or volcanic activity.
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