Science Saturday: Fossil Find
Updated: Jul 17, 2019
Much like our own world, the world of Chronsylvania is full of strange natural phenomena. Every week we'll highlight an article that explores the odd, and very real, scientific properties of our universe. We'll also leave you with a writing/drawing prompt based on the article to get your creative juices flowing.
So you know that asteroid that killed the dinosaurs? Imagine someone was able to take a picture of the moments immediately following the impact. Imagine the chaos that picture would show: volatile earthquakes, oceans swelling with tidal waves, the sky thick with dust and ash. Imagine how much scientists could learn from such a picture.
Well, crew, imagine no more.
Earlier this week, a group of scientists from the University of Kansas announced they have discovered a treasure trove of fossils that date to mere moments following that planet-altering collision. And while these fossils may not be a photograph, they do give us key insights into what it was like to actually experience that impact.
The fossils show a diversity of land animals, trees, and various marine life forms strewn about wildly in the catastrophic chaos that followed the collision. The asteroid’s impact in what is now Mexico sent fast-traveling seismic shockwaves throughout the entire planet. So fast, in fact, that it may have taken those shockwaves less than thirty minutes to reach the fossil site in present-day North Dakota.
Because the asteroid’s impact lead to a rapid sedimentation process, the fossils the researchers discovered are preserved in three dimensions, not crushed flat like most fossils. These fossils provides scientists with a critically important artifact to help them study one of the most significant events in the biological and geological lifespan of our planet: a perfectly preserved 3D model of what was happening in the moments immediately following the impact that changed our planet forever.
And that can teach us a heck of a lot more than any picture.
Think about a normal, everyday thing you do. This could be driving a car, sitting around watching TV, messing around on your phone, or enjoying one of your favorite hobbies.
Now imagine that , due to some cataclysmic event, this scene is captured, fossilized in three dimensions, and buried deep within the earth for 60 million years.
Draw or write about this scene from the point of view of an alien researcher who has just dug up this odd fossil 60 million years in the future. This researcher knows very little about this weird planet called Earth and even less about the strange creatures called humans who inhabited it 60 million years ago.
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