In the blink of a geological eye, nearly 600 million years ago, a massive ice age radically altered the planet’s climate, resulting in a “Snowball Earth,” also known as the Cryogenian Period, severely constricting the oxygen supply on the planet. Scientists at the University of Southampton have proposed that changes in Earth’s orbit may have allowed complex life to emerge and thrive during the most hostile climate episode the planet has ever experienced.
“Driving through the lonely, windswept ranchlands of southwestern North Dakota, we got out of our field vehicle, passed through through a rickety gate in a flimsy barbed-wire fence, and entered a postage-stamp-sized plot of eroded landscape. Soon we were digging out fossil fish that died 66 million years ago choking on melt-glass spherules thrown into the atmosphere by the meteor impact 1800 miles to the south in Yucatan, Mexico, that had killed the dinosaurs, opening the way for mammals, and eventually humans, to take over the terrestrial world,” planetary scientist Mark Richards wrote to The Daily Galaxy in an email about what was one of the defining events in the history of planet Earth.
Editor, Jackie Faherty, astrophysicist, Senior Scientist with AMNH. Jackie was formerly a NASA Hubble Fellow at the Carnegie Institution for Science. Aside from a love of scientific research, she is a passionate educator and can often be found giving public lectures in the Hayden Planetarium. Her research team has won multiple grants from NASA, NSF, and the Heising Simons foundation to support projects focused on characterising planet-like objects. She has also co-founded the popular citizen science project entitled Backyard Worlds: Planet 9 which invites the general public to help scan the solar neighbourhood for previously missed cold worlds. A Google Scholar, Faherty has over 100 peer reviewed articles in astrophysical journals and has been an invited speaker at universities and conferences across the globe. Jackie received the 2020 Vera Rubin Early Career Prize from the American Astronomical Society, an award that recognises scientists who have made an impact in the field of dynamical astronomy and the 2021 Robert H Goddard Award for science accomplishments.
Life returned very quickly to the Chicxulub crater after the asteroid hit Earth with an impact equivalent to 10 billion Hiroshima bombs. Microfossils found in the core sample show that life at the crater reappeared after about 30,000 years, roughly when it reappeared in other locations, according to , Christopher Lowery, a researcher at the University of Texas-Austin. “You see that resurgence across the globe”, he added.