Though the catastrophe that destroyed the dinosaurs world may have begun with blazing fire, it probably ended with icy darkness, according to a Purdue University research group.
By analyzing fossil records, a team of scientists including Purdues Matthew Huber has found evidence that the Earth underwent a sudden cooling 65 million years ago that may have taken millennia to abate completely. The fossil rock samples, taken from a well-known archaeological site in Tunisia, show that tiny, cold-loving ocean organisms called dinoflagellates and benthic formanifera appeared suddenly in an ancient sea that had previously been very warm. While some scientists have long theorized that a meteorites fiery collision with Earth was in some way responsible for the mass extinction of many dinosaur species, the discovery provides the first physical evidence of the global cooling that likely followed the impact.
"This is the first time anyone has found a fossil record indicating the Earth cooled significantly at that time," said Huber, an assistant professor of earth and atmospheric sciences in Purdues School of Science. "It is likely that the object that struck the Earth hurled huge quantities of sulfate aerosols high into the atmosphere, which darkened and cooled the planets surface for several years afterward.
Chad Boutin | EurekAlert!
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