Timing Is Everything! Dinosaurs Could Have Survived If Asteroid Had Hit Earth A Bit Sooner Or Later

First Posted: May 16, 2017 05:17 AM EDT

A difference of 30 seconds could have changed the evolutionary history on planet Earth. Dinosaurs might have survived the annihilating asteroid collision. There might have been no humans, at least not as the dominant species -- and none to write this news piece or read it!

According to a BBC documentary, dinosaurs could have survived the destructive asteroid that struck Earth 66 million years ago, if it had hit the planet a mere 30 seconds sooner or later. The program The Day The Dinosaurs Died followed a research team that drilled into a part of the 111-mile wide and 20-mile deep Chicxulub crater created by the asteroid collision. It is located 24 miles off the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico.

The researchers discovered that the rock was rich in sulfur compounds on drilling into the crater. The research team believes that when the asteroid vaporized this type of rock, the resulting reaction filled the air with dust that blocked out sunlight. Consequently, there was a cooling effect that dropped Earth’s temperature to below freezing for decades and wiped out dinosaurs. Furthermore, the dinosaurs that managed to survive the tsunamis or molten rock caused by the asteroid would have died from starvation as their food supply was also destroyed.

If the asteroid that was traveling at 40,000 mph had collided with Earth a few seconds sooner or later, then it could have hit the Pacific or Atlantic Ocean. This could have resulted in less damage.

“That asteroid struck Earth in a very unfortunate place,” said geophysics professor from the University of Texas, Sean Gulick, according to a Yahoo report. "This is where we get to the great irony of the story – because in the end it was not the size of the asteroid, the scale of blast, or even its global reach that made dinosaurs extinct – it was where the impact happened," program presenter Ben Garrod added.

However, the timing of the collision and its aftermath meant that smaller animals and ultimately humans got the chance to evolve, survive and thrive. In half a million years from the extinction of the dinosaurs, mammals of all shapes and sizes evolved on Earth.

“Chances are, if it was not for that asteroid we would not be here today,” program co-presenter Alice Roberts noted.

See Now: NASA's Juno Spacecraft's Rendezvous With Jupiter's Mammoth Cyclone

©2017 All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission. The window to the world of science news.

Join the Conversation

Real Time Analytics