Scientists Claim Ice Age Caused by Massive Asteroid Dust Cloud Led to Biodiversity on Earth

Thursday, 19 September 2019 - 10:46AM
Solar System
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Thursday, 19 September 2019 - 10:46AM
Scientists Claim Ice Age Caused by Massive Asteroid Dust Cloud Led to Biodiversity on Earth
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There's a verse from Genesis – the book in the Bible, not the project involving legendary drummer Phil Collins – that I frequently consider as I plumb the depths of space news in search of meaning, or at the very least content to aggregate for you. The verse will be familiar to most, even those who've never been dragged by the ear to Ash Wednesday services.


"Remember, O man: thou art dust and to dust thou shalt return."


While the verse alludes back to the mythos of Adam's creation from "the dust of the ground" (Gen 2:7), there may be more science there than you might think. A team of scientists in Sweden are saying that a massive dust cloud caused by the disintegration of a giant asteroid millions of years ago partially blocked out the sun leaving our planet in an ice age lasting two million years. This ice age led to a huge increase in marine and terrestrial biodiversity, which the scientists call the Great Ordovician Biodiversification Event (GOBE). Their research was published in Science Advances. 


"The sudden global change from an equable greenhouse situation to a climatically more heterogeneous icehouse world spurred the GOBE," the researchers, led by nuclear physicist Birger Schmitz, wrote. "The cooling increased latitudinal temperature gradients, requiring adaptions by the biota acclimatized to a warm climate."


Their theory is fairly simple: 


• Earth is populated with various flora, fauna, and biota
• Asteroid breakup causes major dust storm to sweep across Earth
• Solar radiation/light (warmth and light from the sun) is partially blocked
• Temperatures begin to cool across planet, seas fall, waters become colder and freeze
• Life evolves, adapting to these new conditions
• New lifeforms developed


The new theory raises some interesting questions, especially as more people – at least the ones capable of facing reality like adults and nor burying their heads in the sand – become concerned about the effects of climate change on Earth. Among them is whether or not a similar asteroid event might trigger an ice age that would serve to check the planet's population or, at the very least, offer up a new wave of evolution.


Regardless, one thing is certain: to dust we shall return. 








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