Paleontologist Robert DePalma may have unearthed a fragment of the asteroid that caused the dinosaur extinction 66-million years ago. It was discovered at the Tanis fossil site in the Hell Creek Formation in North Dakota, alongside the fossilized remains of a fish and turtle. These animals were believed to have been buried alive by sediment displaced as a large body of water caused by the asteroid blast moved up the interior seaway.
The large body of water surged out instantaneously after the asteroid struck the sea, unlike tsunamis, which can take hours to reach land. This meant that the fish died within an hour of the blast, confirmed by “impact spherules”, or small pieces of molten rock thrown up from the crater into space where they crystallized into a glass-like material that were found lodged in the gills of the fish. Don’t expect to see the fragment on eBay anytime soon, like this Tyrannosaurus rex fossil that appeared recently.
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One piece of evidence after another started stacking up and changing the story. It was a progression of clues like a Sherlock Holmes investigation. It gives a moment by moment story of what happens right after impact and you end up getting such a rich resource for scientific investigation,” said Robert DePalma, a postgraduate researcher at the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom and adjunct professor for the Florida Atlantic University’s geosciences department.