There is new evidence that most dinosaur species were extinct millions of years ago due to a meteorite impact in Mexico. This is evidenced by an international study, in which two Dutch people participated, published today in the scientific journal Science Advances. According to the researchers, the evidence is one of the last pieces of puzzle needed to find out the cause of the extinction of dinosaurs.
Scientists have long thought that the Mexican Chicxulub crater in the Gulf of Mexico has evidence of the extinction of dinosaurs. All this time, they cherished the desire to do drillings in the center of the crater.
But that is complicated, says paleontologist Jan Smit of the Vrije Universiteit van Amsterdam who was involved in the research. “Since 1994, we have been raising funds to pay for the drilling, only a few years ago the amount needed – more than 13 million dollars – was collected. This includes a special drilling rig.”
The samples from those drillings have now been examined, which shows that deep in the soil there is a high concentration of iridium. “That substance is actually a kind of fingerprint of a meteorite,” says researcher Smit. “Iridium has been found countless times on Earth, like on fossils of dinosaurs.”
Yet it was never definitively established where the impact crater of that particular meteorite is located, says Smit.
Researcher Jan Smit: “To lay that last piece of puzzle it was necessary to find the iridium in the Mexican crater, which we thought was the ‘guilty’ crater for years”:
According to Smit, it is now certain that the meteorite impact in Mexico is the cause of the extinction of most dinosaur species. And other scientists, not involved in the research, also call the conclusion important. “The fact that the iridium has now been found in the crater itself is the icing on the cake,” says Professor Anne Schulp who works at Naturalis.
“ The story of the dinosaurs makes us look at the facts,” says Naturalis expert Schulp. “Species can extinct, including those that are super successful. For over 150 million years, they‘ve been out of service, and suddenly they’re gone.”
‘Other side of the story’
Although the impact occurred millions of years ago, it is important to do research on it, Schulp finds that “We increasingly understand how life has developed over time. The better we get that picture, the better we can predict how we‘re going into the future. For example, in terms of climate and biodiversity. These are very important themes.”
Dinosaurs may die out, according to Schulp something comes in return. “If these big meat and herbivores stop walking around the earth, it will give room for a lot of other animal groups.” Among other things, man benefited from it. “The dinosaurs make way for the mammals. Without that meteorite impact in Mexico, we wouldn’t have been there.”