New research sheds light on the day the dinosaurs died

For the first time, we have a detailed picture of what happened in the 24 hours after an asteroid hit the Earth 65 million years ago and caused dinosaurs to become extinct. A research team led by the University of Texas at Austin made the new discoveries using rocks found off the Yucatan Peninsula. They found that the blast ignited a chaotic day of fires, earthquakes, and tsunamis, which led to a prolonged period of global cooling.

The new research allows scientists “to get a really clear snapshot” of what happened that day, according to Derrick Pitts, chief astronomer at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. “This is the most eventful day, almost in the history of the planet.” 

That snapshot is a grim one. Pitts said the asteroid was six miles wide – and that when it hit Earth, it created a crater 90 miles wide and 18 miles deep that blew 25 trillion metric tons of material into the atmosphere.  

The new research showed scientists that the impact “created a gigantic tidal wave that washed across this continent, and really changed the face of the planet in that location – or, really, changed the face of the planet overall entirely,” Pitts said.  

The spot where the asteroid struck is key, he said. “If the asteroid had not hit that particular location at that time, it could have been a very different outcome for the planet,” he said. “That particular impact region at that particular time created this world that we have now because it altered the planet … If it had hit somewhere else, we could have had a different planet.”  

The research also showed that the event isn’t isolated – and that another asteroid could strike.

There is good news: while smaller asteroids could still cause problems, Pitts is confident that a major asteroid isn’t headed toward Earth any time soon. “I’m confident there’s not a big one heading our way,” Pitts said. “And we’ve taken a very good assessment of what’s out there. Still more work to be done — but we know there aren’t any more planet killers out there in the next thousand years or so.”  

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Mohammed Morsi, ousted Egyptian president, has died

Cairo — Egypt’s state TV says the country’s ousted president, Mohammed Morsi, has collapsed during a court session and died. Morsi had been Egypt’s elected president following the death of Hosni Mubarak in 2012, but was deposed after a military coup in 2013 that installed General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi into power. 

The state TV says the 67-year-old Morsi was attending a court session Monday in his trial on espionage charges when he blacked out and then died. His body was taken to a hospital, it said.

Morsi, a leader of Egypt’s largest Islamist group, the now outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, was elected president in 2012 in the country’s first free elections following the ouster the year before of longtime leader Hosni Mubarak. The military ousted Morsi in 2013 after massive protests and crushed the Brotherhood in a major crackdown, arresting Morsi and many others of the group’s leaders. Morsi had been imprisoned since his arrest and was previously sentenced to death for his alleged role in a mass prison break that took place during the 2011 uprising that toppled Mubarak. 

Egypt's deposed president Mohamed Morsi waves from inside the defendants cage during his trial
Egypt’s deposed president Mohamed Morsi waves from inside the defendants cage during his trial at the police academy in Cairo, Jan. 8, 2015. Getty

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