Listen: What If the Meteor that Helped Wipe out the Dinosaurs Had Missed Earth?
"Today's episode is brought to you by smart water twenty years ago. Smart water, reimagined, what water could be from thoughtful bottle designed to supporting smart people who are changing our world through fresh thinking. Like, you smart water has added electrolytes for taste and great tasting water helps you stay hydrated, feeling refreshed and ready to take on your day. Refresh yourself with smart water. Welcome to brain stuff from how stuff works. Hey, brain stuff, Lauren Vogel bomb here on the northern coast of the Yucatan peninsula near the town of chick. Love. Mexico is a crater about one hundred twenty miles in diameter. That's about one hundred ninety kilometers the asteroid that created this crater was about six miles. That's ten kilometers wide and hit the earth sixty five million years ago in spite of these immense, measurements, the craters hard to see even if you're standing right on its rim to get a good map. Nasa. Researchers examined it from space. Ten years before the nineteen ninety discovery of the chick fil crater, physicists, Louise, Alvarez and geologist. Walter Alvarez, a father son team proposed a theory about the impact that we know today created it. They noted increased concentrations of the element iridium in sixty five million year old clay radium is rare on earth, but it's more common in some objects from space like meteors and asteroids, according to the Alvarez theory, a massive asteroid had hit the earth blanketing the world iridium, but shower of particles wasn't the only affect of the collision the impact caused fires climate change and widespread extinctions at the same time dime stores, which until then had managed to survive for a one hundred eighty million years died out, geophysicist Doug Robertson of the university of Colorado at boulder theorizes, the impact heated earth's atmosphere dramatically causing most big dinosaurs to die with an hours this mass extinction. Definitely happened fossil evidence shows that about seventy percent of species living on earth at that time. Became extinct. The massive die off marks the border between the Cretaceous and tertiary periods of earth's history. Which are also known as the age of reptiles and the age of mammals respectively today, scientists call the extinction decay t- event after the German spellings of Cretaceous and tertiary the t- event had an enormous effect on life on earth. But what would have happened if the asteroid hadn't missed would it have led to a world where people in dinosaurs would coexist or one in which neither could live. In a world where an asteroid whizzed past earth instead of crashing down with a force of a hundred million tons of TNT life could have progressed much differently. Sixty five million years ago, some of the animals and plants that are common today. We're just getting started these include placental mammals, which are mammals that develop inside a placenta in the womb and angiosperms, which are flowering plants insects that rely on flowers, such as bees were also relatively new many of these life forms thrived after the t- event, and without that mass reptilian extinction to clear the way they may not have found ecological niches to fill in this scenario. Today's world might be full of reptiles and short on mammals, including people. But even if the asteroid hadn't hit done stores and other Cretaceous life forms might have become extinct. Anyway, some dinosaur species had started to dwindle long before the asteroid's impact. This has led many researchers to conclude that the asteroid was just one aspect of a complex story. Other global catastrophes. Massive volcanic eruptions in what is now. India most likely played a role also the earth's changing landscape as the supercontinent Panja broke up into today's continents. Probably had something to do with it too. Then there's another argument that the chip to love asteroid hit the earth too early to have caused the extinction. Researchers Gerda Keller and Marcus Harding, both conclude that the impact took place three hundred thousand years before the end of the Cretaceous period. Keller theorizes chick fil impact was one of at least three massive collisions Harding argues at the iridium layer didn't come from the web asteroid but from another event such as series of meteors burning up in the atmosphere. He bases. This theory on ROY particles objected during the impact a most of these are in an older layer of the earth than the Katie iridium layer, according to both of these points of view the absence of the club. Asteroid strike may not have had a big affect on the k t extinction earth was a warm planet for most of the time that dinosaurs lived after the end of the Cretaceous period, the world got a lot colder and experienced several ice ages. Whether dinosaurs could have survived such change in climate is debatable. It's hard to come to a definitive conclusion about what the world would look like today without the chicks love impact. But the question of whether people in dinosaurs could have coexisted is a captivating won the ideas, president in everything from the Congo legend of mock lame Obembe to King Kong to the pervading kitsch of the Flintstones. Then of course, there's the prevailing scientific theory about the origin of birds that they are in essence dinosaurs that we are coexisting with today. Today's episode was written by Tracy the Wilson and produced by Tyler claim brain stuff is a production. Iheartradio's how stuff works to hear more from Tracy. Check out the podcast stuff, you missed in history class and for more on this and lots of other historic topics is that our home planet. How stuff works dot com. And for more podcasts from iheart radio is iheartradio app. Apple podcasts or wherever you listen to your favorite shows. Jerry Lewis is dead. Sid vicious incurred. Kobe also did Amy wine-house Johnny cash and more disgrace. Them's rock and roll true crime podcast with stories about musicians getting away with murder and behaving. Very badly is available now hosted by me Jake Brennan, you can listen to disgrace of the iheartradio app. Apple podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts."