04/05/2021 at 09:27 CEST
The impact of an asteroid that killed the dinosaurs gave rise to our planet’s rainforests, a study suggests. The researchers used fossil pollen and leaves from Colombia to investigate how the impact changed the tropical forests of South America. After the 12 km wide space rock struck Earth 66 million years ago, the type of vegetation that made up these forests changed dramatically.
The team has described their findings in the prestigious journal Science. Co-author Dr. Mónica Carvalho, from the Smithsonian Institution for Tropical Research in Panama, said: “Our team examined more than 50,000 fossil pollen records and more than 6,000 fossils of leaves before and after impact. “They found that coniferous plants called conifers and ferns were common before the massive asteroid struck what is now Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.
The structure of tropical forests also changed as a result of this transition.. During the late Cretaceous period, when dinosaurs were still alive, the trees that made up the forests were widely spaced. The tops did not overlap, leaving open sunlit areas on the forest floor. Therefore, it can be said that that great meteorite created the Amazon jungle, today so attacked by deforestation.