Scientists have uncovered suspicious fragments of Dino’s killer asteroid

Updated on 05/12/2022 at 17:20

  • 66 million years ago, an asteroid wiped out the dinosaurs from the Earth.
  • Until now, it was assumed that the celestial body was completely destroyed on impact.
  • But now scientists have managed to detect tiny fragments of cosmic material in amber – that would be a sensation.

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It was the last day of the dinosaurs, 66 million years ago: an asteroid collided with the Earth near Mexico today. The powerful explosion created the so-called Chicxulub crater, killing everything around it. There were earthquakes, tsunamis and hail of fire. What survived fell victim to the dust in the atmosphere. The sky darkened, the temperature dropped drastically – and most of the last animals died along with the plants. This ended the era of the dinosaurs on our planet.

Since then, their remains have been scattered around the world, including at the Tanis fossil site in North Dakota, USA. A team led by palaeontologist Robert DePalma has been studying the remains of ancient giant lizards since 2012. The team could now make the big discovery, reports the CNN news channel: the remains of the asteroid that destroyed the dinosaurs may have been preserved in the resin of the petrified tree.

The discovery of the shock material would be a sensation

When an asteroid strikes, the heat creates tiny glass spheres that are stored as clay for millions of years thanks to geological processes. But DePalma now also found glass spheres preserved in amber, as he explains: “In this amber, we found a series of spheres that were basically frozen in time. They have never turned into clay and are perfectly preserved. It’s like taking a sample from a jar, going back in time and taking a sample from the point of impact and then storing it for research purposes. ‘

Scientists have managed to locate small, unmelted rock fragments in the glass spheres. Most of them were limestone, indicating they were likely derived from the limestone of the Chicxulub Impact Crater. But the two fragments were different and very different in composition.

Two fragments may be of cosmic origin

“She [die Fragmente, Anm. d. Red.] showed spikes of chromium and nickel and several other elements unique to meteorite materials. These fragments are, according to our preliminary analysis… almost certainly of cosmic origin, ”continued DePalma.

If they were to be confirmed, it would be sensational, NASA scientist Jim Garvin explained during a presentation of the preliminary results in April: “This example of a tiny fragment, maybe just a microgram of an asteroid colliding – the fact that a little bit of what was preserved would be amazing.” Garvin has studied impact craters on both Earth and Mars.

The results of the DePalma investigation had previously been discussed on the BBC’s “Dinosaur Apocalypse” special. A BBC team accompanied the excavations at Tanis for several years.

There is one big but

However, there is one big but: the results of the research on glass beads have not yet been reviewed and have not yet been published in a professional journal. A peer review is a procedure for ensuring the quality of a research paper or project by independent experts in the same field.

DePalma expects the verified preliminary results to be confirmed and published “in the coming months”.

Sources used:

  • CNN: Perhaps a fragment of the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs was found
  • BBC: Dinosaur Apocalypse

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