Questions for ‘What killed the dinosaurs?’


Some 66 million years ago, an asteroid (or perhaps a comet) struck Earth.


To accompany feature “What killed the dinosaurs?”


Before Reading

1.  What does it mean for something to go extinct?

2.  Look up the definitions for asteroid, meteor and comet. What is the difference between the three? What happens if one of these objects strikes Earth?

During Reading

1.  What is Chicxulub and where is it located?

2.  What happened to many of the species living on Earth 66 million years ago?

3.  What is iridium? Where is it commonly found?

4.  What happened in the first two years after a massive space rock struck Earth?

5.  How do scientists know that the tsunami that struck the Hell Creek Formation is connected to the Chicxulub impact?

6.  What notable event was underway in India at the time of the Chicxulub impact?

7.  Why are scientists looking at the element mercury in their studies of dinosaur extinction?

8.  Why is it notable that the oceans may have become more acidic after the Deccan eruptions?

9.  What can fossil bivalves from Antarctica tell scientists about climate around the time of the dinosaur extinction?

10.  How might the Chixculub impact have affected the Deccan eruptions?

After Reading

1. What killed the dinosaurs? Was it an asteroid? A comet? Volcanic eruptions? A combination of things? Or something else? Use evidence from the story to back up your answer.

2.  The mass extinction that included the dinosaurs happened a long, long time ago. But many scientists — and other people — are curious about what happened. Why is that? And could their findings have any relevance for things happening on Earth today?


1.  The asteroid (or comet) that struck Earth 66 million years ago release 70 billion metric tons (77 billion tons) of soot. If that amount is equal to the weight of 211,000 Empire State Buildings, how much does the Empire State Building weigh?