77 F
Mérida
Saturday, January 22, 2022
###

Did a Chicxulub oil fire kill off dinosaurs?

Latest headlines

Booster shots arrive for Mérida residents between 40-59

Booster shots for Mérida residents in their 40s and 50s arrived Friday. Photo: Courtesy A military plane with...

Mexico celebrates International Mariachi Day

Mariachis in Mexico and around the world celebrate International Mariachi Day observed every Jan 21. 

Marines to take over security at Mérida and Cancún airports

Mexico's Marines will be taking control of seven airports across the country, with  Mérida and Cancún among them. 

What to do if you find baby sea turtles on the beach

Most people realize that it is not a good idea to disturb nesting or baby turtles, but what should we do if one appears to be in peril or distress?
Yucatán Magazine
Sign up to get our top headlines delivered to your inbox twice a week.

An artist's rendering shows the Chicxulub asteroid crashing into the Yucatan Peninsula about 66 million years ago. New research suggests dinosaurs might have died out even if the asteroid missed Earth. Illustration: Donald E. Davis / NASA
An artist’s rendering shows the Chicxulub asteroid crashing into the Yucatan Peninsula about 66 million years ago. New research suggests dinosaurs might have died out even if the asteroid missed Earth. Illustration: Donald E. Davis / NASA

Scientists have a new theory about how the Chicxulub crater, which hit the Yucatán about 66 million years ago, caused the demise of so many creatures but not others.

Researchers from Japan argue that the six-mile-wide chunk of rock slammed into an oil field in the present-day Yucatán Peninsula and triggered an inferno that launched a massive cloud of smoke.

The resulting layer of soot that enveloped the globe would have been just the thing to kill the dinosaurs and most other land-dwelling creatures, said scientists at Tohoku University.

But the cloud would have let in enough sunlight to allow some animals to survive, they wrote in Scientific Reports.

Earlier theories

Previous studies have postulated that the asteroid sparked mass extinction by releasing high levels of sulfuric acid particles in the atmosphere. The particles would have caused complete darkness, near-freezing temperatures and acid rain.

The Japanese team collected samples of sediment along the Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary — a thin band of rock that marks the timing of the extinction of dinosaurs — in locations about 600 miles outside the crater in Haiti and about 3,700 miles away in Spain.

Samples from both locations were found to have come from the same source: Yucatán.

The researchers hypothesize that soot was slowly deposited on land in the five years following the massive collision.

Soot would have blocked about 85 percent of sunlight and cut rainfall by nearly 80 percent, creating near-drought conditions. Temperatures would have plunged by up to 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

Then plants would begin to die off, cutting off the food supply to creatures higher up the food chain — such as the dinosaurs.

What survived, and why

Crocodilians, birds, small mammals, and most ocean creatures survived because their habitats afforded them protection from the chilling temperatures, and they maintained a diet lower on the food chain.

But previous studies have shown there was a lot more going on at the time.

Other scientists point out that lava had been flowing from the Deccan traps in India for about 250,000 years before the asteroid hit, and a study published in 2015 found that the crater impact may have instigated an additional eruption there, adding a significant amount of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.

That would have caused temperatures to rise, not fall, adding to difficulty of holding to any one scientific theory.

With information from the Los Angeles Times, phys.org

- Advertisement -

Subscribe Now!

More articles

Yucatán’s muralism boom —  an explosion of color, tradition and meaning

Yucatán’s history of muralism famously dates all the way back to the elaborate frescoes of the ancient Maya.

Students at Mérida’s private Catholic Universities caught trading thousands of explicit photos of their classmates

Numerous students at Mérida’s Anáuac Mayab University are reportedly active in a “secret” chat group to trade intimate photos of classmates, as well as engage in cyberbullying. 

New benches at ancient archaeological site anger Izamal residents

Modern slab benches detract from an ancient ruin at Izamal, neighbors say. Photo: Courtesy Modern-looking benches installed at...

Being a good neighbor to Yucatán’s roof cats and street dogs

Illustration: Juan Pablo Quintal García Cats replaced people as my friends soon after quarantine 2020 began. 

What my rescue dogs taught me

I thought I knew a lot about dogs until I took in two rescues. I was wrong....

Bus full of construction workers catches fire in Mérida’s north

A bus went up in flames just before 8 this morning in Mérida’s Francisco de Montejo neighborhood.

Mérida’s new surveillance center now has eyes on over 6,700 cameras

Yucatán's government has opened a new remote surveillance center to oversee the state's thousands of active security cameras. 

600 acres expropriated in Quintana Roo for new Mayan Train route

Mexico has seized 198 lots of land in Quintana Roo along phase 5 of the Mayan Train's path.

Omicron strain now dominant in Yucatán

The Omicron variant of COVID-19 now appears to be the most common form of the virus in Yucatán.

Exploring Tazumal and Casa Blanca in Western El Salvador

Though part of the Mayan world, archaeological sites in El Salvador have largely remained unvisited by all but the most avid adventurers. But this tiny country boasts several interesting sites full of unique features and blends of cultural traditions.