Hindsight is 20/20. Maybe you’d be more productive if you didn’t stay up until 3 am binge watching Stranger Things. Maybe you’d be a Nobel-winning scientist if you didn’t smoke too much pot during undergrad and sleep through your lectures. Maybe the dinosaurs wouldn’t have gone extinct if the giant meteor hit...somewhere else.
That’s what these Japanese researchers are saying. Essentially, their model shows that only 13 percent of the Earth’s surface had the right chemistry to have produced the catastrophic results 66 million years ago.
“The site of asteroid impact, therefore, changed the history of life on Earth,” they write the new paper published today in Scientific Reports.
You know the story—66 million years ago, an asteroid maybe nine kilometers in diameter hit the present-day Yucatan Peninsula, creating the Chicxulub crater. Recent models have shown that it probably threw 300 gigatons of sulfur and 420 gigatons of carbon dioxide into the air, blanketing the planet and causing a sort-of nuclear winter.
But the researchers’ new model shows that only about thirteen percent of the Earth had the right makeup of hydrocarbons to produce the soot that blanketed the world. They present the below map with their study, where only orange and magenta regions had the right chemical makeup to cause the 8 to 11 degree Celsius (14 to 20 degrees Fahrenheit) cooling, they say.
The authors told the New York Times that they thought the dinosaurs still might be around today. But that article cites some scientists who had several criticisms, include questions over whether or not the soot actually came from the dirt or from the burning afterwards. Research has also shown the dinosaurs were already in decline, reports The Guardian.
Again, hindsight is 20/20. But I’m kind of glad the dinosaurs went extinct, to be honest. [Scientific Reports]
Featured image: Drawn by Patryk Zawistowski, Charlotta Wasteson/Flickr