Dinosaur graveyard could finally be PROOF that asteroid impact wiped out species
PROOF that the dinosaurs’ time on Earth came to an abrupt end after an asteroid collided with the planet may have finally been found.
Although the theory that a mass extinction occurred around 65 million years ago – wiping out 75 per cent of species – as a result of an asteroid impact is widely accepted, there has never been any solid proof.
However, the key to proving this may lie behind a shopping mall in New Jersey where archaeologists have discovered a quarry which is home to a “mass death assemblage” in the Mantua Township in the State of New Jersey.
Initial excavations show that fossils in the quarry, which would have been submerged in water at the time, date back to the time the theorized asteroid struck south of the boarder in Mexico.
Furthermore, the remains of the large dinosaurs found in the quarry – such as the mosasaur which could grow to be as long as a bus – are for the most part still relatively intact, indicating that they died at the same time.
But it’s not just the fossils that the scientists are looking for.
When the asteroid hit Earth, debris would have been catapulted into the atmosphere – enough to block out the sun which would have stopped plants and animals from thriving.
When the debris finally settled, it would have left a layer of sediment on the ground which would have been rich with iridium – an element that is commonly found in asteroids.
A team from Rowan University in the States are now analysing the soil, and if iridium is found, it could prove that an asteroid did in fact wipe out the dinosaurs.
If true, Dr Kenneth Lacovara said that the quarry will give “an unparalleled window into a pivotal moment in Earth history”.
He said: “We’ve uncovered thousands of fossils including the remains of ancient sea turtles, crocodiles, and portions of fearsome marine lizards called mosasaurs.
“We don’t know yet, but we are testing this hypothesis by examining the fossils, the sediments and the chemistry.
“Certainly we have rocks that are near that time. I know we’re damned close.
“We are in the trying-to-poke-holes-in-it phase. There’s going to be so many arrows aimed at that.”