A new BBC Two documentary suggests dinosaurs might have escaped extinction if a doomsday asteroid had struck 30 seconds earlier or later.
Instead, it’s believed the massive, 15 km-wide rock smashed into shallow water near the Yucatan Peninsula 66 million years ago, ejecting mass amounts of sulfur into Earth’s atmosphere.
“This is where we get to the great irony of the story,” Ben Garrod, who presents The Day The Dinosaurs Died, told the BBC.
“In the end it wasn’t the size of the asteroid, the scale of blast, or even its global reach that made dinosaurs extinct. It was where the impact happened.”
Researchers contend the ensuing blast caused an extended global winter that left dinosaurs with nothing to sustain themselves.
However, had the giant asteroid struck moments earlier or later it might have splashed into deeper waters in the Atlantic or Pacific Oceans.
Such an open water impact could have resulted in less vaporized particles being ejected into the air, thereby allowing more sunlight to reach Earth’s surface.
Scientists believe the impact that formed Mexico’s Chicxulub Crater resulted in an explosion equal to 10 billion Hiroshima A-bombs, according to the report.
The documentary also speculates that the original impact caused immediate death for dinosaurs roaming as far away as New Jersey.