Comet, Not Asteroid, Wiped Out Dinosaurs
Scientists tweak theory on what slammed into Earth
By John Johnson, Newser Staff
Posted Mar 23, 2013 6:51 AM CDT
A comet, not an asteroid, did in this guy, a new study suggests.   (AP Photo/U.S Attorney Office for the Southern District of New York, File)

(Newser) – Scientists still think a space rock slammed into Earth 65 million years ago in a catastrophic collision that wiped out the dinosaurs and most other species. But a new theory presented this week suggests that the space rock was a speedy comet, not a hulking asteroid as previously believed, reports the BBC. Dartmouth researchers came up with the theory after determining that the amount of sediment—specifically extraterrestrial iridium and osmium—that got thrown into the atmosphere at the time of the collision was less than is commonly believed.

Then they factored in the size of the 120-mile-wide crater that the collision created in the Yucatan Peninsula. A massive, slow-moving asteroid didn't compute. "So we said, 'How do we get something that has enough energy to generate that size of crater, but has much less rocky material?" explains one of the Dartmouth researchers. It had to have been something relatively small and fast. "That brings us to comets." Not all scientists are convinced just yet, however, notes the Science Recorder. It's possible that an unusually fast asteroid could have done the trick.

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Showing 3 of 13 comments
Mar 25, 2013 8:01 AM CDT
Any theory coming out of Dartmouth is suspect in the scientific community simply because they have a reputation for being a bunch of rich drunks. Not all are rich and not all drink, but a few years back their campus health center was giving away Nalgene bottles with the following statistic screenprinted on the side: "A recent poll shows that 70% of all Dartmouth students eat before going out drinking." My initial thought was that 70% of Dartmouth students aren't 21 years old yet, so they're breaking the law going out drinking. But why should they care about breaking the law if their rich parents will just have their well paid attorneys get them off. So Dartmouth itself seems to be spending a pile of money to perpetuate its reputation of being a school for rich drunks. Comet or asteroid? Who cares? Pass the Cristal! Go Big Green! BTW, the school's "unofficial" mascot is Keggy, the animated beer keg:
Mar 24, 2013 4:52 PM CDT
Oh I'm 99% positive it was Dennis Rodman. The erratic trajectory and absence of exit strategy all points to a new Rodman theory.
Mar 23, 2013 5:00 PM CDT
A lot of them got hit in mid-argument: "It's a comet" "Isn't! It's an asteroid!" "YOU'RE an assteroid!" "Well then YOU're a haemmorhoid!" BANG!!!