Questions for ‘Reliving the last day of the dinosaurs’


A massive asteroid hit the Earth 66 million years ago. The explosive collision rattled the planet and changed its climate. The devastating changes it triggered abruptly wiped out the dinosaurs — and most other living species.

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To accompany feature “Reliving the last day of the dinosaurs”


Before Reading

1. What killed the dinosaurs? Was it sudden or gradual?

2. How can scientists learn about something that happened on Earth millions of years ago?

During Reading

1.   What geologic evidence first made scientists think a big asteroid hit the Earth at the end of the Cretaceous Period? What made them think it was especially large?

2.   How did David Kring’s team find the Chicxulub crater?

3.   How did the 2016 expedition led by Sean Gulick and Joanna Morgan learn more about the impact crater? What are peak rings and what did they figure out about how these form?

4.   What were some of the immediate destructive forces triggered by the asteroid impact?

5.   What is the transitional layer? Why is it important?

6.   How does Robert DePalma think the remains at Tanis were deposited? What may be noteworthy about these remains?

7.   What phenomenon caused by the asteroid impact led to the biggest long-term effects for life on Earth?

8.   According to Joanna Morgan, what characteristics helped mammals survive the asteroid’s aftermath?

9.   What did Christopher Lowery and David Kring discover about the recovery of life in the Chicxulub crater? Why might that be surprising?

10.  What surface signs of the Chicxulub crater still exist? Why are they there?

After Reading

1.   How did the Chicxulub asteroid change which types of life were best suited to thrive on Earth? If the asteroid hadn’t hit Earth, what types of living things do you imagine might dominate today’s world?

2.   A large asteroid heading for the Earth is a popular doomsday scenario in movies. Imagine you are writing a new, science-based asteroid disaster flick. Based on what you know about the effects and aftermath of the Chicxulub impact, how would you have the movie characters prepare? What steps might they take to improve their chances of survival?