Not by Fire but by Ice
THE NEXT ICE AGE - NOW!
Updated 7 August 2005
Evidence of global winter at dinosaur extinction -31 May 2004
reveal microscopic cold-water creatures invaded a warm sea just after the dinosaur extinction. Tunisia
Researchers studied rocks at El Kef in
from 65 million years ago, when dinosaurs - amongst other species - vanished from our planet. Tunisia
At the time, El-Kef was part of the warm western
. The scientists found two new species of benthic foraminifera - simple animals that live near the sea floor - of cold-water types found in more northerly oceans. Tethys Sea
They also found a curious difference in the shape of a microscopic snail-like creature called Cibicidoides pseudoacutus. This creature's shell is said to coil in either a left or a right direction.
In cold waters there are more left-coiling individuals, while this pattern is reversed in warmer waters. The researchers found an increase in left-coiling Cibicidoides, after the K-T boundary.
"It's the first time we have found physical evidence for cooling at the K-T boundary," said Dr Simone Galeotti of the
Universityof Urbino, . Italy
"It must have been dark long enough to cool the oceans," said Matthew Huber of
in Indiana, "but not long enough that the whole planet iced over." Purdue University
This impact-induced darkness would have lasted between one and ten years on land, but there is evidence for a cooling of up to 2,000 years at El Kef.
The results are reported in the latest issue of the journal Geology.
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