While many believe that an asteroid striking the Earth was the cause of the death of the dinosaurs, a new study suggests their death might have been a bit more tragic. While the idea of an asteroid slamming into Earth and destroying everything is tragic itself, this new study believes that asteroid dust could have caused a nuclear winter that starved out many of the dinosaurs, among other things.
An Earth-shattering asteroid would have caused this global nuclear winter, so previous assessments aren’t wholly incorrect. This study just provides a bit more context to the theory of how dinosaurs died. When the asteroid hit Earth, it not only would have sent shockwaves through the planet. It also would have propelled around 2,000 gigatons of dust into the air.
This insane amount of dust would have essentially choked out the sun’s light, disrupting the photosynthesis needed to keep plants alive. Without plants to feed on, any herbivores would have died after they starved to death, while carnivores eventually would have run out of meat to eat, too. The death of the dinosaurs would have been brutal to witness.
Now, obviously, not every plant or animal would have perished. As we still have some creatures that tie back to the evolutions of certain dinosaurs. However, the researchers behind the study say it likely would have eliminated 75 percent of the Earth’s living organisms. Essentially wiping the slate clean with the death of the dinosaurs.
Recent prevailing theories have added speculation to the pot, positing that sulfur from the asteroid’s impact, or soot from wildfires that ensued, was the leading cause of the frigid darkness that would have covered our planet. However, this new study looks at particles found at a crucial fossil site and helped add weight to theory that asteroid dust was the primary agent of the nuclear winter that caused the death of the dinosaurs.