aurora network logo

The Day the Dinosaurs Died

Aurora member VU Amsterdam palaeontologist Jan Smit analyses a series of important events in the history of life on Earth.

An article in the New York Times magazine, titled: the day the dinosaurs died, shares rather unique discoveries about what exactly happened 66 million years ago. One man, almost a myth, DePalma discovered several fossils and ancient animal residue that explains this disastrous event. It is said, although many scientists beg to differ,  that approximately 66 years ago the earth, a living organism, almost died due to a compelling mix of volcanism, climate change, and asteroid impacts.

In Bowman, Noth Dakota, a place called Hell Creek, DePalma found Micro­tektites which are the blobs of glass that form when molten rock is blasted into the air by an asteroid impact and falls back to Earth in a solidifying drizzle. Founding microtektites opened up a sea of possible other living organisms. DePalma shared his findings at several seminars and readings to students and alumni alike. Even so,  Jan Smit, a palaeontologist at Vrije University Amsterdam, and a world authority on the KT impact has been helping DePalma analyze his results. “This is really a major discovery,” Smit said. “It solves the question of whether dinosaurs went extinct at exactly that level or whether they declined before. And this is the first time we see direct victims.  Jan Smit claims that the findings have the potential of being quite controversial. He further says: “When I saw his data with the paddlefish, sturgeon, and ammonite. I think he’s right on the spot, I am very sure he has a pot of gold.”

Since the article published in the New York Times, the controversial has received countless of media attention. Even so in Dutch newspapers Volkskrant and NRC.

Photograph by Richard Barnes for The New Yorker

Back to news