September 30, 2022

Fragment of the asteroid that killed off the dinosaurs may have been found in amber

5 min read


It is one of several amazing discoveries at a unique fossil site at Hale Creek Formation in North Dakota that has preserved the remains of the catastrophic moment that ended the dinosaur era – a milestone in the history of the planet. turn.

Fossils The wreckage also includes sucking fish. Strike, a tortoise with a stick and a leg that may have belonged to a dinosaur that witnessed an asteroid attack.

De Palma, a postgraduate researcher at the University of Manchester in the UK and an adjunct professor in the Department of Geosciences at the University of Florida Atlantic, first started playing tennis in 2012, known as the Fossil Site.

Dusty, exposed plains are the exact opposite. with What the site looked like at the end of the Cretaceous. At the moment, the American Midwest There was a swampy rainforest, and an inland sea that has since disappeared – called the Western Inland Seaway – which now runs from the Gulf of Mexico to Canada.

Tanis is more than 2,000 miles from the Chicxulub effects pit launched by an asteroid hitting the coast of Mexico, but early discoveries at this location convinced de Palma that it provides rare evidence that dinosaurs What is the reason for the end of the era?

The Tennis Fossil Site in North Dakota would have been a swampy rain forest 66 million years ago.

The site is home to thousands of well-preserved fish fossils, which de Palma believed would be buried alive by homeless sediments as a huge body of water moved from the planet’s invasion to an inland seaway. was done. Unlike tsunamis, which can take hours to reach the ground after an earthquake in the ocean, these moving bodies of water, called seashells, come out immediately after a large asteroid hits the ocean.

He believes the fish died within an hour of the asteroid attack, not as a result of a massive forest fire or the nuclear winter that followed in the days and months to come. This is because “impact spheroids” – small pieces of molten rock that were thrown from a pit into space where they crystallized into glass-like material – were found lying in the fish’s throat. Analysis of fish fossils has also revealed this asteroid. Hit in the spring.

“One by one, the evidence began to gather and the story began to change. It was a breakthrough, like the Sirlock Holmes investigation,” de Palma said.

“It tells a moment-by-moment story of what happens immediately after the effect and you get such a great resource for scientific research.”

The asteroid that destroyed the dinosaurs crashed in the spring

Many of the latest discoveries made in the documentary have not been published in scientific journals.

Michael Benton, a professor of vertebrate biology at the University of Bristol, who worked as a scientific consultant in the documentary, said that while it was “a matter of convention,” peer review before new scientific claims appeared on television. Should take, he said. And many other biologists agree that the fossil site really represents the “last days” of dinosaurs.

He said via email, “Some experts have said, ‘Well, it could be a day later or a month earlier … but I prefer the simplest explanation, which is that it really Documents the day the asteroid collided in Mexico, “he said in an email.

An organ belonging to Thessalosaurus, a small plant-eating dinosaur, as it was excavated from a tennis fossil site in North Dakota.  This creature may have observed the asteroid that ended the dinosaur era.

The cosmic origin

Mostly glassy The influential circles that first revealed fingerprints. The effects of the asteroid on De Palma have been preserved as soil as a result of geological processes for millions of years. However, De Palma and his colleagues have also discovered some spheres that landed on the surface of this happy day in tree resin and were preserved in amber.

“In this amber, we have found many spheres that were basically frozen over time, because in amber, like a worm that is perfectly safe, when these spheres enter the amber, the water does not reach them. Dust, and they’re perfectly safe, “he said.

It’s like “getting a sample vial, running it back in time and getting the sample from the impact site and then saving it for science,” de Palma. Said.

They were able to locate several small molten fragments of rock within a circle of glass. De Palma said most of these small rock fragments were rich in calcium – possibly from limestone beneath the Yucatan Peninsula.

Shown here is amber, which contains a possible fragment of an asteroid.

“But the two of them were very different in structure. You had spikes in chromium and nickel and some other elements that are common only in meteoritic materials and the fragments that are based on our initial analysis … almost certainly. Are of cosmic origin. ”

De Palma said he hopes to be able to confirm what the asteroid was made of and where it could be from – efforts that have caught NASA’s attention. De Palma Present your results In the agency last month Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

Jim Garron, Goddard’s chief scientist who has studied Impact Criterion, said: It will blow your mind. ” On Earth and Mars.

Research on Amber’s grave Spheroids are not published in peer-reviewed journals. During peer review, scientists strongly comment on each other’s work to ensure that it stands up to scrutiny. De Palma said in a peer review A paper on preliminary results will be published “in the coming months”.

Dinosaur leg

An extraordinarily well-preserved dinosaur leg with skin, another discovery of the tennis site is included in the documentary, which was first aired in the UK in April, and made its way into the ancient scientific world. The head is raised.

After excavating the Thessalosaurus leg fossil.

Very few Cretaceous fossils have been found in the upper rocks of the geological record, and it is possible that the limbs – Discovered by a small plant-eating dinosaur de Palma and his companions from Thessilosaurus – could have died the day the asteroid collided. The protection of soft tissues, such as the skin, indicates that his body had no time to decompose before being buried in the sediment.

“The only two confirmed scenarios here are that he died in the surge or that he died immediately before (the asteroid attack) but so close to the time that he did not have time to rot. This is not something that It died years ago and was reworked. That doesn’t happen with soft tissue. ”

A detailed analysis of the bones of the dinosaur’s legs can shed light on the circumstances under which its effects were felt.

The pterosaur egg discovered in tennis is the only egg found in North America.

Other cool items found at the site include a fossil pterosaur egg, which was first discovered in North America. This shows that the eggs of large flying reptiles were as soft as many of today’s reptiles. A fossil tortoise with a wooden stick in its body is evidence that the creature was killed during an aquifer-driven water surge.

The work being done in Tennessee not only reveals the details of the jaw-dropping details of what happened on the day the asteroid collided, but also provides insight. In an incident that led to mass extinction and how this extinction came to light after that. De Palma hopes it will provide a framework for thinking about today’s climate crisis.

“The fossil record provides us with a window into the details of the global threat and the response of the Earth’s biota to that threat,” de Palma said. “It gives us … a crystal ball that looks back over time and enables us to apply it to today’s climate and environmental crisis.”

“Both are shocking, but also a benefit to us. Because by studying this impactful event in more detail, we can better prepare to take care of our world right now.”



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