Dinosaurs wiped out by asteroid impact that turned earth into a 'hellish' place

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The dinosaurs were wiped out by an asteroid that struck the earth with the force of a billion Hiroshimas, according to leading scientists.

The asteroid, the size of the Isle of Wight, slammed into the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico at 20 times the speed of a bullet causing earthquakes, landslides, tsunamis and wildfires.

The destruction, 65 million years ago, was so great it left most of the world a wasteland, shrouded in dust, perpetually cold and virtually devoid of all life and vegetation.

The dinosaurs, which had ruled for 160 million years, were wiped out in a matter of days. Large marine reptiles, like the mosasaurs and the plesiosaurs, the flying reptiles known as pterosaurs, giant snail-like ammonites and many species of marine plankton, were also were also obliterated. Bird species also suffered losses but survived.

Some mammals survived, however, ultimately setting the stage for the rise of human beings.

The conclusion by a panel of 41 international scientists, that it was an asteroid that caused the disappearance of the dinosaurs, has come in a bid to end decades of speculation.

The panel, which reported in the journal Science, were set up in order to end debate over what caused the massed extinction at the end of the Cretaceous Period.

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