Do you remember Jurassic Park- the movie that showcased Dinosaurs? Do you ever wonder how they became extinct? These creatures were gigantic in the true sense of the word roaming the surface of Earth for over 170 million years. However, one day, something happened that wiped them off the planet completely. Here we will try to know the impact of an asteroid that ended the Cretaceous period and led to the extinction of these incredibly giant creatures.
The Arrival of the Asteroid that Ends the Era of Dinosaurs
A huge asteroid crashed on the earth’s surface some 66 million years back. Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico was the exact spot it hit. The speed of the asteroid was something around 30 km per second, 150 times faster than a jet airliner. The impact was so heavy that it ended the Cretaceous period and created a crater with a diameter of 180 km.
The Initial Impact
The impact released massive energy, something close to 100 tera tonnes of TNT. This energy was one billion times greater than the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombs. The impact threw a lot of soil into the air, which led to high temperatures. Also, the hot dust rained over other areas. The global temperatures rose by several degrees, and animals within thousands of kilometers of the impact were burned alive. Only small animals survived the impact. Because, they found underground shelters or hid in water, caves, or large tree trunks.
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Shock waves, heat pulses, wildfires, and big tsunamis soon followed the initial impact in the forests for thousands of kilometers. A 2 km tall tsunami wave was speculated to have occurred immediately after the impact. There were also earthquakes, volcanic explosions, and acid rain.
The Long-term Consequences: The Extinction of Dinosaurs
The dust particles in the air blocked sunlight for the next year all around the planet, which caused a nuclear winter. The temperature dropped drastically. The Earth was at freezing temperatures for the next three years. It killed many plants and animals. Since the sunlight was blocked for a year, it was impossible for plants to use photosynthesis. So, they died out. Herbivorous Dinosaurs had nothing to eat, and they died out. Even there was nothing to eat for the carnivorous Dinosaurs, and they too died out. A chain reaction took place, and only small omnivorous animals such as mammals, lizards, turtles, and some birds survived. These animals could survive as scavengers because dead dinosaurs, fungus, and decaying plant matter were their food.
The impact of the asteroid that wiped dinosaurs off the planet forever was significant. It spelled the end of the Cretaceous period. The short-term effects were deadly. The long-term consequences were even deadlier. The planet went into a nuclear winter, and only small omnivorous animals survived the impact. The event had a massive impact on the Earth’s ecosystem.