What was the day like, 66 million years ago, when a giant meteor crashed to Earth and wiped out the dinosaurs? O Fantástico presents the second part of a documentary by the British BBC network that recreates, in great detail, such dramatic moments of the planet and the few species that managed to survive in a devastated world.
- Watch the 1st episode: Dinosaurs dominated the Earth’s land surface until the planet was hit by a giant meteor
An asteroid the size of Mount Everest crashed into the sea in what is now Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. Three thousand kilometers north of the impact site, in the Tanis Desert, the team of American paleontologist Robert Depalma found traces of this explosion: small spheres of rock trapped in ancient fish fossils.
Intrigued, the scientists took the spheres to a laboratory in England to be analyzed. AND inside this tiny sphere contains iron, chromium and nickel in proportions found only in an asteroid.
In the first episode, we saw that clay spheres were found in the gills of prehistoric fish. But how did these animals die? The answer may lie in fossils. The American paleontologist believes that the fish would have died together, and at the same time, in a turbulent moment in the waters of the river.
THE first hypothesis is that of an immense tsunami, with waves up to a hundred meters high. THE second hypothesis bets on seismic waves, which propagate after an explosion or earthquake and they moved very quickly. All this while the rain of debris fell from the sky.
“It’s something that’s being seen for the first time in 66 million years.. The ankle bone, the toes and the nails. It’s a very well preserved leg, with the joints, and still covered by skin”, said Robert Depalma, when explaining the discovery of the remains of a dinosaur.
It is a dinosaur from the end of the Cretaceous period, which may have died on the day of the meteor strike, or on the eve of the catastrophe.. The leg was of some agile sort that ran a lot. Could be a Thescelosaurus. It is the missing link to prove years of study on extinction.
Thescelosaurs lived on the banks of rivers and were able to dig in the sand in search of food. Their biggest predators were large carnivores.
With the explosion of the asteroid, with the power of a billion atomic bombs, formed an immense cloud of vaporand three million tons of debris were ejected in all directions. Fires and floods swept across the landscape within minutes.
The temperature on Earth has risen dramatically. The devastation was total. Most animals had nowhere to escape. In less than two hours, the world changed forever. After a long heyday, dinosaurs became just a chapter in history.
Millions of years later, the mud turned a thick layer of rock, hiding the fossils that scientists struggle to unearth and decipher. In the oceans, warming waters have wiped out food for most marine species.
For nearly a decade, the soot and smoke left the planet in darkness. The landscape was inhospitable. Gradually, the sun found gaps to reach the ground and life began to take shape again.
The few species that survived lived in burrows and had one big advantage: shelter to protect themselves from the relentless climate and security to store food.
Small mammals continued to breed and evolve. If the meteor hadn’t fallen, most likely evolution wouldn’t have progressed to the incredible variety of species we know today. Even we humans would not be here to tell this story.
Humans are the only animals with the ability to study and learn from the distant past. Therefore, it is necessary to use this skill wisely: and protect the place we call “our home”.
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