[meteorite-list] Asteroid May Have Flung Pieces Of Earth, Dinosaurs To Moon & Mars
From: Ron Baalke <baalke_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Thu Apr 22 09:46:23 2004
Asteroid may have flung pieces of Earth, dinosaurs to moon, Mars
By Steven Siceloff
May 12, 2001
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - Dinosaur hunters who search the badlands of America
for traces of extinct creatures may want to take their search to the moon or
So says Doug Shull, an Air Force reserve major with the 45th Space Wing who
presented his theory last week at the 38th Space Congress.
Shull suggests that pieces of Earth may have been blown off the planet by
asteroid strikes millions of years ago, and those pieces - along with pieces
of dinosaurs - may have landed on the moon or Mars.
The asteroid thought to have killed off the dinosaurs, for example, was six
miles wide, weighed a trillion tons and created a shock wave that traveled
1,200 miles in three minutes. It is thought to have slammed into what now is
Mexico, creating the Yucatan Peninsula and the Gulf of Mexico more than 65
million years ago. Researchers theorize the blast and its shock wave tossed
up all soil and rocks down to the bedrock for hundreds of miles around.
"That's just scouring the land, not just blowing it up, but scouring it,"
Researchers during the 1980s thought the impact simply pulverized everything
beneath it. Later analysis showed that rocks and other remnants would be
flung off the planet if the asteroid was large enough.
Many of the chunks would have landed in other parts of the world, Shull
said. But other pieces likely blended with a cosmic cloud around the Earth
that the moon regularly passed through.
The pieces from the impact 65 million years ago could be parts of dinosaurs,
plants and other prehistoric animals in the path of the plunging asteroid.
Shull said the remains could be well-preserved, sitting on the airless moon,
where neither fossilization nor biological degradation would harm them. That
means some bones still might have muscle or skin attached. Paleontologists
long have sought such clues.
There is some precedent for all this: The Apollo astronauts recovered rocks
on the moon that matched some rocks on Earth. And Martian meteors have made
their way to Earth.
But paleontologist Jack Horner of the Museum of the Rockies, a consultant to
the film "Jurassic Park," waved off the theory.
"I'd put that as the same plausibility as Martians coming down here and
getting them," Horner said from his Montana office.
Horner's assessment did not surprise Shull, who has worked with physicists
and engineers on the theory but not dinosaur specialists.
"He's a great paleontologist," Shull said. "Now, what he knows about
asteroid physics, I don't know."
Shull continues to study and work on his theory. He is building a computer
program to model how soil would fly after an asteroid collision.
When astronauts return to the moon or go to Mars, he said, paleontologists
who know what to look for will be needed.
Received on Sat 12 May 2001 10:11:22 PM PDT