Everything You Didn’t Know About Ancient Earth
Forget about everything you knew about the ancient life on our planet. Some of those facts may be semi-true or a complete lie. Modern science has learned a lot about Earth’s past, and researchers have uncovered some surprising details that go against everything we take for granted. For instance, did you know that there were mammals that lived and ruled the Earth before the Dinosaurs? Keep reading, there are a lot interesting facts that you may learn.
1 What actually killed the dinosaurs?
First there were the dinosaurs owning the planet. Then, a big asteroid crashed near modern-day Chicxulub, Mexico, sending Earth into a global winter. The age of dinosaurs ended, as 80% of Earth’s species perished. Then, mammals inherited the world. And in the meantime, questions have been raised about the end-Cretaceous extinction and that asteroid impact. Such a massive wallop should have killed off a lot of life all over Earth. Instead, some species survived—even dinosaurs, which later evolved into birds. Some explain this with a double whammy of the Chicxulub impact and contemporary extensive volcanic flooding from a region called the Deccan traps. Then along came the asteroid to deliver a coup de grace to the most stressed animal groups, including T. rex and similar kinds.
Experts also say that at the end of the age of dinosaurs, Earth was hit by several big impactors—asteroids or comet fragments—over a short span of time. Chicxulub was in there, but the biggest one was Shiva, three times as big as Chicxulub. When Shiva hit our planet off the western coast of modern India, its impact was massive enough to change how plate tectonics operated in the area.
2 Diamond rain
Don’t get too excited, it was dangerous. The diamond rain happened during a violent volcanic eruption. Diamonds are crystals of pure carbon that take shape under intense heat and pressure in Earth’s deep interior. Nobody is quite sure how the carbon gets down that far in the first place, but everyone agrees that diamonds are very, very old. Once formed, diamonds just hang out in the planet’s mantle. Plate tectonics may bring a continent rolling over them to scrape some up. In fact, diamonds can’t exist naturally on Earth’s surface because they turn into graphite. The only reason we have any is because very deeply rooted volcanic eruptions have blown them up here too fast for them to change over.
3 Earth water is older than the solar system
Scientists figured that Earth’s oceans formed about one billion years after the planet took shape. This could explain the oceans with a combination of volcanic outgassing and the impacts of icy comets. The volcanoes would release what little water had gotten buried inside the Earth during its formation. The rest of the water would come in as comets bombarded us early in the new solar system’s life.
Researchers have just discovered that 30–50 percent of Earth’s water is older than the solar system. Interstellar ice was here, in other words, before the dust cloud that birthed our solar system. Those scientists used a relative dating method to show that up to half of the water in, among other things, your body is over 4.6 billion years old. They can’t give a precise date, but this ancient water could be almost as old as the universe. How awesome is this?
4 Life came from Mars?
In the 1980s, after the Viking missions to Mars, scientists were surprised to find that some meteorites apparently came here from the Red Planet. Today, NASA is pretty sure that they’ve got at least 124 chunks of Martian real estate on file. The Mars meteorites appear to be volcanic rock, and Mars does host the biggest known volcanoes in the solar system. However, not even the biggest eruption at Olympus Mons could have blown these rocks to Earth.
5 Earth wasn’t always hellish
Geologists call Earth’s early years the Hadean period after Hades, often considered the ancient Greek counterpart to Hell. The heat of the Earth’s formation, according to theory, melted most of the planet, which then took a long time to form today’s relatively cool surface crust. Most material from Hadean Earth is gone now, thanks to weathering and plate tectonics. All that’s left are little crystals of the mineral zircon. Researchers tested the oldest known zircon, which goes all the way back to the Hadean period. This mineral crystallized at a much cooler temperature than expected. However, Earth does have a core that’s made out of iron. This means the planet must have been hellish for at least a little while after it formed.