Life recovered rapidly after dinosaur-killing asteroid
New data suggests that life around the dinosaur-killing crater recovered less than a decade after the impact.

Tyler MacDonald | 4 hours ago

A new study suggests that the crater left by the asteroid that triggered the mass extinction of dinosaurs 66 million years ago contained sea life less than a decade after its impact. Not only that, it contained a thriving ecosystem within 30,000 years, which is a faster recovery than anywhere else in the world at the time.

The findings call into question the theory that recovery sites closest to the impact progressed the slowest. Instead, the data suggests that worldwide recovery was influenced more by local factors. The study could have major implications for environments affected by climate change today.

"We found life in the crater within a few years of impact, which is really fast, surprisingly fast," said Chris Lowery, lead author of the study. "It shows that there's not a lot of predictability of recovery in general."

The fossils from the study are evidence that organisms thrived in the crater, and suggest that the recovery of organisms after the impact was swift enough that lifeforms outside of the microscopic made the crater their home shortly after the impact.

"Microfossils let you get at this complete community picture of what's going on," Lowery said. "You get a chunk of rock and there's thousands of microfossils there, so we can look at changes in the population with a really high degree of confidence ... and we can use that as kind of a proxy for the larger scale organisms."

Ellen Thomas, a senior research scientist who wasn't involved in the study, believes that although the study suggests a fast recovery, the scientific community will want to analyze the data themselves.

"In my opinion, we will see considerable debate on the character, age, sedimentation rate and microfossil content ... especially of the speculation that burrowing animals may have returned within years of the impact,"she said.

The findings were published in Nature.

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