Paleontologists Link Fossil Site To Dinosaur-Killing Meteor

Friday, May 24, 2019

The seismic shockwave would have triggered a water surge, known as a seiche. ROBERT DEPALMA

Paleontologists have discovered a fossil site containing fossilized remains of fish, mammals, and plants that were buried as a result of the meteor strike that killed dinosaurs 66 million years ago.

This fossilized graveyard containing fish piled one atop another, burnt tree branches, dead animals, marine microorganisms, and some parts of the carcass of the Triceratops (a genus of herbivorous ceratopsid dinosaur), was unearthed by Robert DePalma, paleontologist in a 6 yearlong study conducted in the Hell Creek Formation, North Dakota. “This is the first mass death assemblage of large organisms anyone has found associated with the K-T boundary,” said DePalma, curator of paleontology at the Palm Beach Museum of Natural History in Florida and a doctoral student at the University of Kansas. “At no other K-T boundary section on Earth can you find such a collection consisting of a large number of species representing different ages of organisms and different stages of life, all of which died at the same time, on the same day.”

Robert DePalma along with a team of researchers which included two geologists from the University of California, Berkeley have co-authored a paper on the subject. According to the team, the fossil trove (dubbed Tanis) contains evidence that associates it with the asteroid impact from 66 million years ago which created a massive crater in the ocean floor and sent vaporized rock and cubic miles of asteroid dust into the atmosphere. The cloud eventually enveloped Earth, and eventually led to Earth’s last mass extinction. Mark Richards, a UC Berkeley professor emeritus of earth and planetary science describes the site as ‘a museum of the end of the Cretaceous in a layer that is a meter-and-a-half thick’.