(ORDO NEWS) — Paleontologists used not only fish bones, but also plant fossils in order to establish as accurately as possible the time when a terrible catastrophe occurred as a result of a huge meteorite falling to Earth.
The collision occurred 66 million years ago and caused the extinction of the dinosaurs. But for a long time, scientists could not say in which month of the year it happened.
Thanks to a new study, it was possible to find out that the death of dinosaurs occurred in June. Experts used evidence from the Tanis site, which is located in the Hell Creek Formation in North Dakota.
It was here that fossils of fish, plants, mammals, as well as dinosaurs were discovered. Many of the remains are perfectly preserved until today. Some of them even showed remnants of soft tissues.
Tanis was first discovered in 2008. Since that time, experts have been very interested in the area. Robert DePalma from the University of Manchester in 2019, together with his colleagues, began to conduct a study, with the help of which it was possible to establish the exact time of the asteroid’s fall.
The collision was indicated by the remains of dinosaurs, which were discovered before the border of the Cretaceous and Paleogene period, when the catastrophe happened. In addition, the presence of a layer of molten spherules was established.
These are small glass balls that were thrown a huge distance by the shock wave. They have also been found even in the skeletons of part of the fish, which could have swallowed them after the balls hit the water. There are also traces of some kind of standing waves in Tanis.
They resemble a swing and appear in closed water bodies. These waves were formed as a result of an impact that occurred in Mexico.
During the study, experts studied the bones of the modern sturgeon and found out that there are special layers in the skeleton. With their help, you can find out not only the age of the fish, but also the alternation of water, which will be fresh in summer and salty in winter.
After that, the skeletons of fish from the Cretaceous period were studied. This made it possible to establish that the asteroid impact occurred at the junction of May and June.
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