If firestorms did not wipe out dinosaurs, what did?
Contradicting the popular theory that the ancient dinosaurs were wiped out by a firestorm accompanying the asteroid that hit the earth, a new study says that it might not be the reason why we don’t have the huge animals on earth now.
Researchers from the University of Exeter, University of Edinburgh and Imperial College of London recreated the incident by simulating the amount of energy that would have been released when the asteroid hit the earth almost 66 million years ago. They found that although the energy was intense, the heat did not last long enough to have completely wiped out and ignite the plants, which has now become a challenge to the idea of the global firestorm.
Dr Claire Belcher of the Earth System Science group in Geography at the University of Exeter said, “By combining computer simulations of the impact with methods from engineering we have been able to recreate the enormous heat of the impact in the laboratory. This has shown us that the heat was more likely to severely affect ecosystems a long distance away, such that forests in New Zealand would have had more chance of suffering major wildfires than forests in North America that were close to the impact.”
The impact site is believed to be the Chicxulub crater in the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. A heat pulse surrounding the area lasted less than a minute after the impact. It was too short to ignite the plants and similar organic material nearby.