If the rock that hit the Earth 66 million years ago had been just a little later, or a little earlier, we might not be here talking about it.
“They illustrate what happened in the seconds and hours after the impact, revealing that had the huge asteroid struck the Earth a moment earlier, or later, the destruction might not have been total for the dinosaurs. And if they still roamed the world, we humans may never have come to rule the planet.” — BBC Two — The Day the Dinosaurs Died
I was once almost eaten by a shark in the warm waters off Chicxulub. It was 1972 and I was on holiday in Mexico. We were spending a week in the Yucatan. After leaving Merida our concierge, driver, cook, and friend took us to his mother-in-law’s summer home on the beaches of Chicxulub. My spanish is not good and I thought we had rented the little cabin/hut in the back of the beach front property. “No, no esa cosa pequeña … esa casa grande!”
It was awesome. The sand, the art, the cool tiles, the warm sea … and it seemed that we had it all to ourselves. After a few days of our fabulous holiday, my partner had to go into town about the car rental, but despite the warnings I’d heard about swimming with a partner, I couldn’t stay out of the ocean and I went into those waves anyways. I’m splashing around about 100 feet off shore when I noticed a small boy on the beach, jumping up and down, waving, and yelling at me … “hola!” “What’s that you’re saying?” I swam back to shore but he ran away, up the beach, toward the nearby small town of Chicxulub.
My partner and I regularly walked into Chicxulub in the evening, where we ate street food and soaked up the ambiance. That night, as we walked along the beach, we could see there was quite a happening on the town dock, boats and trucks, lots of people, lights and action. It wasn’t long before we were at the scene and had it figured out. They were hauling a huge dead shark onto the dock. This was no baby shark. It was gianormous. Indeed I’m convinced it was the inspiration for the movie “Jaws” which was released only a few years later. When people talked about the movie I thought, that was nothing! You should have seen the monster we saw in Chicxulub!
Anyways, we left the dock and walked the short distance to a large restaurant we had planned to eat at on our last day in the Yucatan. We enter, and who is the first person I see? The boy who was on the beach that morning! He seemed really happy to see me and soon his Dad was ushering us to a table where he handed us a couple of menus. And there, on the menu, was the word the boy had been yelling at me that afternoon. Hola! tiburón! tiburón! tiburón! “
Then, in 1980, the father-and-son team of scientists Luis and Walter Alvarez, suggested the hypothesis that the mass extinction of the dinosaurs was caused by the impact of a large asteroid hitting Earth. And last year, ECORD, the European Consortium for Ocean Research Drilling, launched an expedition to drill core from the crater peak of that event. Here is the web page.
Here is the flyer.