[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index][Subject Index][Author Index]

KT Impact: New Study Finds Widespread Plant Life Devastated



 http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/sci/tech/newsid_1670000/1670035.stm

The asteroid blamed for wiping out the dinosaurs destroyed plant life
thousands of miles from where it struck, say scientists.

Fossils uncovered in New Zealand point to major disturbances in climate
that lead to the death of most trees and flowering plants.

Clues from the plant fossil record suggest that even the Southern
Hemisphere experienced an artificial winter, acid rain, and raging forest
fires.

This is the first clear fossil evidence for destruction of plant life so
far from the Mexico coast, where the asteroid landed.

Dr Timothy Flannery, an expert at the South Australian Museum in Adelaide,
told BBC News Online: "The asteroid devastated pretty much everything.

"This was a case of global devastation rather than North American
catastrophe."
...
The damage to North America is unequivocal...

What happened further afield is harder to establish.  There has been very
little clear fossil data from places like Australia and Antarctica.

Now geologists at the Lund University, Sweden, and the Institute of
Geological and Nuclear Sciences, a research company owned by the New
Zealand Government, have reported new fossil evidence in the journal
Science.

It was found on the South Island of New Zealand, which is situated about
11,000 km (almost 7,000 miles) from Mexico.

Ancient layers of rock from the Moody Creek mine on the west coast reveal
a characteristic accumulation of fern spores and pollen just after the
asteroid impact.

It appears that what was once a swamp forest rich in trees and flowering
plants was reduced to little more than a bed of ferns.
...
This suggests the asteroid impact off Mexico triggered global changes
across most of the planet.
...

Scientists are searching for similar fossil evidence on other southern
continents that could add to the growing picture of how the dinosaurs died
out.

According to Dr Flannery, who wrote a commentary on the new research in
Science, the asteroid scenario is now a strong hypothesis.