Dino-Killing Asteroid Impact Warmed Earth's Climate for 100,000 Years

Dino-Killing Asteroid Impact Warmed Earth's Climate for 100,000 Years

Our work corroborated previous evidence that forests were devastated for a period of at least 1,000 years after the asteroid impact. This was identified by seeing the sturdier and longer legs of the ground-dwelling birds.

And even though the asteroid collided with Earth around 66million years ago, the sudden global warming that followed is relevant to what's happening today, experts said.

The outcome of the research was finding that the latest surviving common ancestor of all present-day birds and all birds that passed through the mass extinction event "probably lived on the ground", say the scientists.

Study co-author and Cornell Lab of Ornithology doctoral candidate Jacob Berv used avian family trees (phylogenies) to infer the characteristics of birds in the distant past. But the other birds that lived in the trees failed to survive, as the forest had nearly ceased to exist as a result of the massive fire. "We propose that widespread destruction of forests following the asteroid impact favored ground-dwelling birds over tree-dwelling birds". Vapor, rich in sulfates, triggered acid rain. Then came the years of cold and darkness, when sulfate, dust and soot in the upper atmosphere blocked the light from the sun.

A team of scientists found this by examining fossil plant remains and the ecological makeup of ancient and modern birds and they think it is due to the impact of the asteroid that decimated the forests all over the world that lasted hundreds and even thousands of years to be restored. "By a few countless years after the asteroid effect, we have direct proof of arboreal fossil birds". "From that and other related evidence we can infer that the bird ancestors that survived the asteroid impact were also likely to be ground birds".

Their fossilized remains contained strong legs like modern ground birds such as kiwis and emus.

"Only a handful of ancestral bird lineages succeeded in surviving the mass extinction event 66 million years ago, and all of today's wonderful living bird diversity can be traced to these ancient survivors", he said.

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Yet the mass extinction, known as the Cretaceous-Palaeogene or "K-Pg" event, was just as important for what it created as for what it destroyed.

"Today, birds are the most diverse and globally widespread group of terrestrial vertebrate animals - there are almost 11,000 living species", he added.

Studying entire paleoecosystems demonstrates how life in the world has actually developed through all the trials and adversities of the past, Dunn stated in an e-mail.

Other researchers argue that it's also the huge volcanic eruptions that also impacted the extinction of the dinosaurs, and MacLeod wants to analyze if the temperatures also rose during that time, changing the global climate.

"Human activity is causing deforestation on a massive scale", Field said.

Dunn added that "By studying this event, we learn about what happened to biodiversity in the past following destruction of Earth's ecosystems and how long it took for biodiversity to recover. We have to take these lessons to heart and act now to maintain today's extensive biodiversity".

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