[UTA Magazine]


Was Chicken Little right after all?

A huge rock from outer space slammed into Earth 380 million years ago with such momentum that it might have wiped out a slew of marine animals.

Writing in the journal Science, geology Professor Rex Crick cites evidence that a meteorite hit the planet during the Devonian period, known as the “age of the fishes.” Dr. Crick and fellow researchers believe that the impact was powerful enough to cause the extinction of weak aquatic species.

Fossils indicate that certain species existed before the meteorite’s fall but not after, said Crick, who isn’t sure exactly where the rock hit or how large it was. The decade-long research has taken him to Africa, where he studied rocks in the western Sahara Desert.

Former UTA geology Professor Brooks Ellwood, a co-author of the article, says there’s no doubt that a huge meteorite hit Earth during this time. Using a new technique, Dr. Ellwood, now at Louisiana State University, detected its magnetic residue.

“A lot more of these extinctions are related to impacts than we ever realized,” said Crick, who noted that about 200 other major impacts have been found. The team is researching another extraterrestrial blast 364 million years ago that may have caused another major extinction.

Which begs the question for Ellwood: “How often do these things hit us? It’s something we should be a little more concerned about than we are.”

shim shim shim shim shim shim shim