Newly discovered fossils could give look into asteroid that killed the dinosaurs

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Roughly 66 million years ago, an asteroid impacted the Earth, believing to have killed 75 percent of land-based species and sending seismic waves that would’ve buried fish, plants, and more organisms.

Now, thanks to recently-discovered fish fossils, paleontologists believe we might have a snapshot into the first few hours after the asteroid’s impact. If proven true, it would be one of the greatest views we have of this critical moment in time.

These findings – found in the fossil-rich Hell Creek Formation in southwestern North Dakota – show a “graveyard” of fish stacked one atop another, suggesting the fish were flung ashore from the seismic waves that followed the asteroid crash and buried in mud, according to an article released by UC Berkeley.

This graveyard also contains things such as burned tree trunks, dead mammals, insects, the partial carcass of a Triceratops, and more – a unique collection of organisms that all appear to have died at the same time and on the same day.

Within these findings, paleontologists have also found small glass beads known as tektites, believed to have formed in Earth's atmosphere following the asteroid's impact.

There is still a lot of work to do to prove that these fossils are in fact from this specific impact. But it’s definitely a step forward in helping scientists determine exactly what happened to the dinosaurs so long ago.

Interested in learning more? We’re covering this topic all weekend in our all-live show, “Wonders of the Night Sky.” Catch it in our Jennifer Chalsty Planetarium, the biggest planetarium in the Western Hemisphere.

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