Life Was Resilient Even in the Face of Earth’s Greatest Disaster

(p. D2) The asteroid moved 24 times faster than a rifle bullet as it struck Earth some 66 million years ago. Its supersonic shock wave flattened trees across North and South America, and its heat wave sparked incomprehensibly large forest fires.

The event lofted so much debris into the atmosphere that photosynthesis shut down. The non-avian dinosaurs disappeared. And nearly 75 percent of all species were extinguished.

. . .

But even at ground zero, life managed to return, and quickly.

New findings published in the journal Geology . . . [online on January 17, 2020 [sic]] revealed that cyanobacteria — blue-green algae responsible for harmful toxic blooms — moved into the crater a few years after the impact.

For the full story see:

Shannon Hall. “Small Survivors: They Were Left Off Killer Asteroid’s Hit List.” The New York Times (Tuesday, February 18, 2020 [sic]): D2.

(Note: ellipses, and bracketed date, added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date Feb. 1, 2020 [sic], and has the title “Asteroid That Killed the Dinosaurs Was Great for Bacteria.” Where the wording differs between the versions, the passages quoted above follow the usually more detailed wording of the online version.)

The findings published in Geology and mentioned above appear in the article:

Schaefer, Bettina, Kliti Grice, Marco J.L. Coolen, Roger E. Summons, Xingqian Cui, Thorsten Bauersachs, Lorenz Schwark, Michael E. Böttcher, Timothy J. Bralower, Shelby L. Lyons, Katherine H. Freeman, Charles S. Cockell, Sean P.S. Gulick, Joanna V. Morgan, Michael T. Whalen, Christopher M. Lowery, and Vivi Vajda. “Microbial Life in the Nascent Chicxulub Crater.” Geology 48, no. 4 (2020): 328-32.

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