Had the cosmic impact hit just about anywhere else on the planet, dinosaurs might still be here right now.

If the giant lizards were walking on Earth today, humans would have never come into existence.

Researchers say that 66 million years ago, an impact of an asteroid about 6 miles (10 kilometers) wiped the dinosaurs. The impact created a crater near what is now the town of Chicxulub in Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula. The crater was more than 110 miles (180 km) across. It heated organic matter in rocks and ejected it into the atmosphere, thus, forming soot in the stratosphere.

Soot is a strong, light-absorbing aerosol. This substance changed the global climate, thus, triggering the mass extinction of dinosaurs, ammonites, and other animals. Therefore, it led to the macro-evolution of mammals and the appearance of humans.

A study made by researchers says that the probability of the mass-extinction occurring was only 13%. The reason is that the asteroid, unfortunately, hit the hydrocarbon-rich areas occupying about 13% of Earth’s surface.

“The probability of the mass extinction occurring was only 13 percent,” said study lead author Kunio Kaiho, a geochemist at Tohoku University in Sendai, Japan.

Kunio Kaiho together with its researchers analyzed the places on Earth where this asteroid impact could have happened.

Researchers previously thought that the amount of sedimentary organic-matter caused the amount of soot and temperature anomaly. So, they started the investigation, analyzing the amount of sedimentary organic-matter in Earth to obtain readings of temperature anomaly caused by soot in the stratosphere.

They concluded that the significant cooling and mass-extinction event could have only occurred if the asteroid had hit hydrocarbon-rich areas.

Scientists are also analyzing the level of climate change “caused by large volcanic eruptions that may have contributed to other mass extinctions,” Kaiho said. Researchers hope that the results will lead to further understanding of the processes behind those mass extinctions.”

Thumbnail Credit: Kerem Beyit