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Antarctica, the remains of a meteorite that killed dinosaurs

A team of Spanish and Argentine scientists managed to map the indications of the meteorite that killed the dinosaurs on earth in Antarctica.

Geological materials mapped on Marambio Island contain an exceptional fossil record, highly studied by scientists from all over the world, in which most of the paleontological publications of this area of ​​Antarctica are concentrated, as reported by the Spanish Geological and Mining Institute (IGME ). The cartography also records the opening of the Drake Strait, which took place about 34 million years ago and which led to the development of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, which contributed to the thermal insulation of Antarctica and the start of the generation of current ice caps.

The work is the result of a joint investigation by researchers from the Geological and Mining Institute of Spain (IGME) and the Argentine Antarctic Institute on that island, an exceptional place on the planet for its geological and paleontological wealth.

Manuel Montes, IGME researcher, explains in a press release that "the importance of this geological mapping is that it helps to understand the great climatic and paleoecological changes that took place on Earth."

Marambio Island is located near the north-eastern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula and is one of the most interesting and visited places in Antarctica by researchers. Its interest lies in the fact that it contains the most extensive and southern geological stratum on the planet that houses the remains of the meteorite that caused the extinction of the dinosaurs.

This layer corresponds to the so-called K-Pg limit (between the Cretaceous and Paleogene geological epochs), with an age of about 66 million years.

That level contains the record of a fundamental change in the evolutionary history of life on earth, since it meant the extinction of most of the dominant fauna groups until then, such as dinosaurs and marine reptiles and the expansion of others, such as the mammals.

When the meteorite of about 10 kilometers in diameter hit, apparently on the coasts of what is now the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico, its ashes spread throughout the world and for decades were decanting over the entire surface of the Earth.

These ashes were rich in rare elements such as iridium, which appear in minute proportions on the surface of the earth but are more abundant in meteorites.

 

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