Scientists have discovered a fragment of the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs. Here's what we know so far

13/05/2022
Credit image: CNN - This amber may contain a piece of the asteroid that struck Earth 66 million years ago
Credit image: CNN - This amber may contain a piece of the asteroid that struck Earth 66 million years ago

Article by: Andacs Robert Eugen, on 13 May 2022, at 12:28 pm Los Angeles time

Scientists have probably found a fragment of the asteroid that hit our planet. 66 million years ago, which caused the extinction of dinosaurs.

It is one of the few incredible discoveries made at a unique archeological site in Hell Creek, North Dakota.

The fossils unearthed there are the remains of fish that sucked up debris thrown during the impact, a turtle, and a leg that could have belonged to a dinosaur that was a "witness" to the asteroid impact.

The site is home to thousands of well-preserved fish fossils, which DePalma believes were buried alive by sediment displaced by a massive wave of water caused by the asteroid's impact. Unlike tsunamis, which can take hours to land after an earthquake at sea, these waves appeared instantly after the massive asteroid crashed into the sea.

The story of the discoveries is revealed in a new documentary entitled "Dinosaur Apocalypse", in which the naturalist Sir David Attenborough and the paleontologist Robert DePalma appear.

The paleontologist is sure that the fish died an hour after the asteroid hit and not as a result of the massive fires or the winter that came in the days and months that followed. This is due to the fact that "impact spheres" were found in the gills of the fish - small pieces of molten rock thrown from the crater, which crystallized into a glass-like material deposited on the gills of the fish, also revealed that the asteroid struck in the spring.

DePalma and his collaborators also found several spheres of impact, namely small pieces of the asteroid, which stopped in tree resin on the surface of a log and were preserved in amber.

"In that amber I found a series of spheres that were practically frozen in time, because, like an insect in amber, which is perfectly preserved, the water could not reach them. They have never turned into clay and are perfectly preserved, "he said.

DePalma said he hopes to be able to confirm what the asteroid was made of and where it could come from - efforts that have caught NASA's attention.

"This example of what could be a tiny little fragment, maybe micrograms, of the asteroid that collided with Earth would be amazing," said Jim Garvin, chief researcher at Goddard, which has studied impact craters on Earth and Mars.

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