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Life Recovered Mere Years After Asteroid Impact

An asteroid impact 66 million years ago wiped out most life across the planet. A new study has found evidence for a diverse array of plankton and microorganisms inhabiting the crater only a few years after the extinction-causing impact. The three hair-covered forms (left) represent species of plankton found inside the crater. The geometric form (bottom left) is a species of algae. The University of Texas at Austin Jackson School of Geosciences/John Maisano

Around 66 million years ago, a city-sized space rock splashed into the Gulf of Mexico and killed 75 percent of life on Earth, including the dinosaurs. We all know that story.

But — at least for the survivors — the aftermath might not have been as hellish as we thought. New evidence shows that within just a few years of this Armageddon, small worm-like creatures were already burrowing in the silty seafloor at the crater. That’s according to research published Wednesday in the journal Nature.

The results came after roughly two years of analyzing rock cores collected from the impact site.

“It was really surprising to us to find that (the aftermath) wasn’t hostile to life at all,” says geologist Christopher Lowery of the University of Texas at Austin, who led the study. “The recovery was really quick.”

Discover, May 30 2018

The Scientist, May 30 2018

Space.com, May 28, 2018

History.com, May 30, 2018

Cosmos, May 31, 2018

Forbes, May 31, 2018

New York Post, June 1, 2018

 

Featuring: Christopher Lowery, Research Associate, Institute for Geophysics, Jackson School of Geosciences