We already know that the dinosaur-killing asteroid caused the extinction of dinosaurs about 66 million years ago. But, according to a new study, the asteroid also acidified the oceans, killing marine life, as well.
The new study found the first evidence that the so-called Chicxulub impactor was also the culprit for the acidification of the world’s oceans.
The asteroid that killed the dinosaurs acidified the oceans, ruining marine life, as well
“Our data speaks against a gradual deterioration in environmental conditions 66 million years ago. Before the impact event, we could not detect any increasing acidification of the oceans,” explained Michael Henehan, a researcher at the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences.
Scientists have previously theorized that the asteroid triggers a decrease in the pH levels in the oceans, but the fossils they recently found confirmed that hypothesis.
“The ocean acidification we observe could easily have been the trigger for mass extinction in the marine realm,” added Pincelli Hull from Yale University in Connecticut.
Dinosaur-killing asteroid killed the plankton
The dinosaur-killing asteroid killed the foraminifera, small plankton that develops calcite shells. With this plankton killed, the creatures that fed on it faced famine. The scientists studied that in a cave in Geulhemmerberg in the Netherlands.
“In this cave, an especially thick layer of clay from the immediate aftermath of the impact accumulated, which is really quite rare,” added Michael Henehan
“When the asteroid struck, atmospheric CO2 was naturally already much higher than today, and the pH much lower. Furthermore, large asteroid impacts cause prolonged darkness,” also said Phil Williamson from the University of East Anglia in the UK, for The Guardian.
The study on the effects of the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs also warns that human-caused climate change that increases the levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide could also trigger the acidification of the world’s ocean.