meteor dinosaur

How long was the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs?

Dinosaurs

What do we know about that killer rock that darkened the skies for dozens of years, raised the volume of the sea above the heads of large animals, and caused earthquakes and violent volcanic events?

The¬†mass extinction event¬†of 65 million years ago, which wiped out most of Earth’s species (including dinosaurs) has been widely publicized and is probably the most famous event in prehistory, and also, one of the most fascinating.

asteroid slamming into tropical
A painting of an asteroid slamming into tropical, shallow seas of the sulfur-rich Yucatan Peninsula in present-day Mexico.
Donald Davis/NASA

What do we know about that killer rock that darkened the skies for dozens of years, raised the volume of the sea above the heads of large animals, and caused earthquakes and violent volcanic events?

To begin with, scientists long ago calculated that the large rock was about 15 kilometres in diameter. This means that, at the time of the collision with the Earth, this asteroid had the height in the sky of a passenger plane .

Thanks to experts from NASA and ESA, we know that rocks of different sizes are integrated into the Earth’s atmosphere on a daily basis. Most do not reach the surface as they disintegrate on their journey to the surface; others, the size of bricks, cause little damage. But it would be enough for a rock to have a diameter of at least 10 kilometers to compromise life on Earth as we know it.

The force with which it struck the Earth was a billion times greater than that of the¬†atomic bombs¬†of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.¬†It created earthquakes greater than 10 on the Richter scale;¬†created monstrous tidal waves, raising the entire depth of the sea;¬†it left a crater, or “ground zero”, 200 kilometres in diameter;¬†and it released materials into the¬†atmosphere¬†, enough to create a global winter that blocked the sun’s rays.

Life on Earth was reeling; animals died directly or indirectly from the impact; and here, the big winners were the smallest and most versatile animals: small mammals that were able to take refuge low in the ground and feed on grains. These animals were the most intelligent, understanding intelligence in its original definition, as the ability to adapt to changes.  Thus, the mammals inherited the Earth, and the hegemony of the great saurians came to an end.

Despite the fact that we know a lot about this catastrophe, and there is sufficiently solid evidence to know that it did indeed happen, there are currents of scientists who believe that it was volcanism, and not the impact of the asteroid , that had more weight than the time to provoke mass extinction; regardless of whether both facts were true.

Also read: Theories About Extinction

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