Cem Berk Senel, Pim Kaskes, Orkun Temel, Johan Vellekoop, Steven Goderis, Robert DePalma, Maarten A. Prins, Philippe Claeys & Özgür Karatekin
New research has brought to light that the minuscule dust particles from the Chicxulub asteroid, which hit Earth 66 million years ago, played a significant role in the dinosaurs' demise.
These particles, similar in size to a red blood cell (0.8–8.0 μm), could have remained in the atmosphere for 15 years.
The prolonged presence of such fine dust would have led to a dramatic cooling of the planet, with temperatures potentially dropping by 15 degrees Celsius.
The darkness caused by the dust could have halted photosynthesis, cutting off the primary food source for many species and causing a domino effect through the food web. Combined with the darkening effects of sulfur and soot from wildfires, this discovery explains the prolonged "global winter" postulated to follow the asteroid impact.
This deepened understanding of the asteroid's aftermath provides a stark illustration of how vulnerable Earth's biosphere can be to disruptions on a global scale.