Belgium's Royal Observatory is questioning the asteroid theory regarding the extinction of dinosaurs. They suggest that "ultrafine dust" resulting from the Chicxulub impact might have disrupted photosynthesis, leading to mass extinctions. This challenges our current understanding of this important event.
In a surprising twist, it turns out the demise of the dinosaurs wasn't due to an asteroid collision, despite what most people think.
Over sixty-six million years since the dinosaurs disappeared, researchers at the Belgium's Royal Observatory think they've unearthed the real reason behind their extinction.
Roughly 165 million years had gone by since the Chicxulub asteroid collided with Earth, leading to the extinction of 75% of the dinosaurs.
Given its estimated diameter of anywhere from 11 to 81 kilometers, experts anticipated that the asteroid would cause substantial destruction.
Scientists called the asteroid impact a "mega-tsunami" because the waves it generated reached heights exceeding one mile.
According to scientists, following the asteroid strike, a cloud of "superfine dust" was produced and lingered in the atmosphere for as long as 15 years.
Reportedly, the dust particles measured between 0.8 and 8.0 micrometers in diameter.
Extensive vegetation likely perished due to the "dust-induced changes in solar irradiance," which is believed to have led to the cooling of the Earth's surface.
These shifts in solar brightness persisted for more than two years.
The Royal Observatory of Belgium explains in a news release: "The prolonged disruption in photosynthesis constitutes a sufficiently long timescale to pose severe challenges for both terrestrial and marine habitats."
"Biotic groups that were not adapted to survive the dark, cold, and food-deprived conditions for almost two years would have experienced mass extinctions."
Another element hindering photosynthesis was the residue from wildfires, which included soot and sulfur.
The scientists collected samples from the very top, paper-thin layer at the boundary between the Cretaceous and Paleogene periods to gather their findings.
Geologist and geochemist at Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), Pim Kaskes, shared: "This interval revealed a very fine and uniform grain-size distribution, which we interpret to represent the final atmospheric fall-out of ultrafine dust related to the Chicxulub impact event."
"The new results show much finer grain-size values than previously used in climate models and this aspect had important consequences for our climate reconstructions."
The researchers from Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VUA) also played a part in the study.
Yet, this study takes a fresh look at what caused the extinction of dinosaurs and questions the validity of the asteroid theory.
This study uncovers how super-fine dust changed the climate and disturbed ecosystems, providing a fresh outlook on Earth's past.
It also underscores how science is always evolving, aiding us in fine-tuning our comprehension of history and its influence on our present world.