A fragment of the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs has been found in the United States

Discovered at the Tanis site, located in the Hell Creek formation in North Dakota, United States, a fragment of the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs 66 million years ago has been found in a piece of amber, reports a documentary broadcast on American television and relayed by CNN. On the site, many fossils have also been discovered. Among them are fish that sucked up debris blown up during the asteroid impact, an impaled turtle with a stick and a leg that could have belonged to a dinosaur that witnessed the impact. It was during new excavations, led by paleontologist Robert de Palma, that these fossils and this fragment were discovered. A discovery that was revealed in a documentary titled Dinosaur Apocalypse on the American channel PBS.

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A very violent impact

The Tanis site is located 3,000 kilometers off Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, site of the asteroid impact that ended the age of the dinosaurs. An impressive distance between the two places, which testifies to the violent impact that the asteroid had when it fell on Earth. Paleontologist Robert de Palma says it is certain the fish found died within an hour of the asteroid impact, not as a result of the massive forest fires or nuclear winter that followed. . Indeed, the scientists found “impact spherules”, small pieces of molten rock, lodged in the gills of the fish. Analysis of fish fossils also revealed that the asteroid impact happened in the spring. “One piece of evidence after another began to pile up and change the story. It was a progression of clues like an investigation into Sherlock Holmes”Robert de Palma told CNN.

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Replenish the asteroid

By analyzing this fragment, the scientists discovered the presence of chromium and nickel, two chemical elements that could be found in the asteroid that formed the crater of Chicxulub, in the province of Yucatán. “You had spikes of chromium and nickel and other elements that are only common in meteorite material and these fragments based on our preliminary analysis…are almost certainly of cosmic origin”, explains Robert de Palma. The paleontologist hopes to be able to confirm what the asteroid was made of and where it could come from.

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Finally, the found dinosaur leg, presumably belonging to a Thescelosaurus, a small herbivorous dinosaur, was surprisingly well preserved and still had soft tissue such as skin. According to Robert de Palma, this suggests that the dinosaur’s body did not have time to decompose before being buried in the sediment. “The only two scenarios supported here are that he died in the surge or he died just before (the asteroid impact) but so close in time that he really didn’t have time to decompose”. A detailed analysis of the dinosaur’s leg bones could shed light on the conditions leading up to the impact. “This is both surprising, but also a benefit for us. Because by studying this impact event in more detail, we can be better prepared to take care of our world at this time”concluded the paleontologist.

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