Devastation detectives try to solve dinosaur disappearance | Science News

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Devastation detectives try to solve dinosaur disappearance

Retracing the terrifying, mysterious final days of the dinosaurs

By
2:30pm, January 25, 2017
illustration of dinosaur doomsday

CRATER CRIME SCENE  Life took a hit 66 million years ago, but whether the culprit was an asteroid or volcanic activity is an enduring mystery. 

Below the shimmering turquoise waters of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula lies the scene of a prehistoric mass murder. In a geologic instant, most animal and plant species perished. Drilling through hundreds of meters of rock, investigators have finally reached the footprint left by the accused: Earth’s most notorious space rock impact, Chicxulub. The dinosaur killer.

Sleuthing scientists are assembling the most detailed timeline yet of the dinosaur apocalypse by giving fresh scrutiny to telltale fingerprints left by the fateful event 66 million years ago. At the impact site, mountains formed in mere minutes where an asteroid (or maybe a comet) crashed onto Earth’s surface, the new work reveals. In North America, a towering tsunami buried plants and animals alike under thick piles of rubble. Around the world, skies darkened by the resulting debris chilled the planet for years.

But the asteroid may not have acted alone. Life may have already been in

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