Killer asteroid that deleted the dinosaurs also created the Amazon rainforest


DALLAS (SMU) – The asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs 66 million years ago likely also gave birth to the richness of the Amazon rainforest, a new study has found.  
 
Researchers used fossil leaves and pollen from Colombia to investigate the impact of the fiery crash on South American tropical forests. They found the type of vegetation that made up these forests changed drastically.
 
The team from Smithsonian Tropical Research Institution outlined their findings in the journal Science.
 
In an accompanying article that was also published in Science, SMU’s world-renowned paleobotanist Bonnie Jacobs and University of Wyoming’s Ellen D. Currano say the study answered some of the big questions of paleobotany: when and how did the modern neotropical rainforests first appear?
 
“It took [an asteroid] smashing into Earth to reset these low-latitude ecosystems, putting them on a path to the rich, stratified tropical forests of today in the most productive terrestrial region of the world,” they wrote. 
 
Jacobs and Currano added that the asteroid destroyed an ecosystem that only exists in fossils today. Both paleobotanists specialize in studying fossil plants to answer important questions about the past and to assess what climate change could mean for the future.
 
See related coverage in The Washington Post, on BBC and in Scientific American.
  

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