It is widely accepted throughout the scientific community that approximately 65 million years ago a massive asteroid impact wiped out almost all life on Earth. The impact, which occurred off the present-day Yucatan Peninsula, left a crater over 100 miles wide and 12 miles deep. The crater is currently submerged in the gulf of Mexico at an area called Chicxulub.
The impact created a force greater that 10 billion atomic bombs and instantly obliterated any life within 100 miles. Many more species eventually succumbed to the freezing temperatures created by the fallout.
So why should we think that we would survive another event like this? Fact is…..we shouldn’t!
Although NASA and other space agencies are always pondering the ‘Doomsday’ scenario, the opportunity has never arisen for mankind to divert or destroy an oncoming asteroid. Successful experiments have been completed but only in the comfort of simulation capsules and computer programmes.
As mentioned above, many deaths will occur immediately upon impact with many more fatalities occurring following the ‘Nuclear Winter’ which would be the result of all the vaporised debris blocking out all sunlight for years. The absence of direct sunlight would result in the total loss of evaporation which, in turn, would result in the total absence of rainfall. This drought would seal the fate of many more species.
If the impact of the asteroid 65 million years ago wiped out almost all life, how did some species survive? The answer is not as complicated as one might think! It is plainly obvious that the first animals that were effected were the herbivores. These massive creatures were left with no food as vegetation slowly disappeared as a result of the lack of sunlight. This presented a large food source for the carnivores who would simply feed on the dead herbivores. But not for long! As the food source diminished, so did the carnivorous population. The surviving species were the smallest mammals as these did not require much food and they could easily burrow into the ground to shelter from the toxic air.
An extinction event like this could occur at any time with very little warning but with the advances in detection equipment and the monitoring of NEO’s (Near Earth Objects) I hope we have time to take shelter.