Having dominated the planet's surface for hundreds of millions of years, dinosaur diversity came to a dramatic conclusion some 66 million years ago at the hot end of an asteroid impact with what is today Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula.
An international team of researchers collaborating on a study of material from the Yucatán Peninsula's famous Chicxulub impact crater has finally matched the chemical signature of meteoritic dust within its rock with that of the geological boundary representing the dinosaur extinction event.
It appears to be a clear sign that the thin blanket of dust deposited on Earth's crust 66 million years ago originated from an impact event at this very spot.
"If you're actually going to put a clock on extinction 66 million years ago, you could easily make an argument that it all happened within a couple of decades, which is basically how long it takes for everything to starve to death," says Gulick.
Since then, evidence in support of an asteroid impact has only grown stronger, with models going so far as to suggest the angle, as well as the location of the Chicxulub impact, played crucial roles in the magnitude of the extinction event.