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Fossil carbon burned by asteroid impact contributed to dinosaur extinction


An asteroid impact 66 million years ago may have released trillions of pounds of partially burned fossil carbon into Earth’s upper atmosphere as a cloud of black soot, significantly contributing to the ensuing global darkness, cooling and mass extinction that wiped out the dinosaurs, according to an international team of scientists.  

“Following the impact, a massive amount of rock was ejected and vaporized, and the burned carbon from that rock made it into Earth’s upper atmosphere within an hour or so,” said Shelby Lyons, who led the research as a doctoral student at Penn State. “This would have exacerbated global cooling and darkness and been one of the major causes of the mass extinction when you couple it with sulfur and dust that also made it into the atmosphere.” more


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