Minute by minute accounts of how asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs devastated Earth

The death of the dinosaurs has been laid out into a detailed timeline thanks to scientists who have been surveying the crater of the asteroid that killed them.

A team led by Sean Gulick from the University of Texas has put together the following sequence of events that wiped out the creatures which ruled Earth for 180 million years in a matter of minutes.

Two days before impact

Around 66million years ago, the asteroid that was days away from killing the dinosaurs would have appeared in view of Earth as a small bright light.


It wouldn't have appeared to be moving but would have been getting brighter, according to the study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The nine-mile wide asteroid called Chicxulub will soon crash into Earth and change the course of history forever.

One hour to go

At this time, Earth would have been alive with an abundance of creatures on both sea and land.

The dinosaurs, such as the Tyrannosaurus rex and Giganotosaurus, would have been going about their day.

However, the scientists think they would have been able to see what looked like two Suns in the sky as the asteroid approached.

Two minutes to impact

The asteroid would have flown over the South Atlantic.

It would have looked just like a fireball, appearing much brighter than the Sun now and burning at 20,000 degrees Celsius.

Five seconds before

The asteroid blasts a hole in the Earth's atmosphere causing a global supersonic shock wave.

It's traveling at 45,000 miles per hour at this point and appears as a bright flash of light.


The asteroid smashes into Earth with an explosion that's a billion times more powerful than the Hiroshima bomb.

It impacts on the shallow waters of what is now the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico.

This creates a crater that's 100 miles across and 20 miles deep.

The asteroid is vaporized sending 25trillion tons of space rock debris into the atmosphere.

One minute after

Molten material has now been blasted into the atmosphere at speeds of more than 100,000 miles per hour.

Some even hit the Moon.

The burning debris coming from the newly formed Chicxulub crater is now hotter than the Sun so everything nearby is on fire.

Dinosaurs nearby would have starting boiling and bursting open with steam as temperatures reached over 300 degrees Celsius.

Other creatures would have been incinerated instantly.

A huge tsunami that's hundreds of feet high then forms.

Two minutes after

Wildfires and other huge craters start to form due to pieces of rock from the explosion falling back down to Earth.

The Earth's surface would have been moving sporadically at this point causing big creatures to tumble.

Smaller early mammals would have been looking for safe places to shelter at this point and may have been burrowing or hiding under rocks.

Three minutes after

Mighty Tyrannosaurus rexes 2,000 miles north of the impact zone are falling in the Earthquake and smashing their skulls open.

Shifting sediments are already burying the dead creatures, which would later become evidence of this catastrophe.

Five minutes later

In North America, quetzalcoatlus, a flying dinosaur with a wingspan of 36feet, would have been shot out of the sky by glass 'bullets'.

These bullets would have been made as molten rock that was flung into the atmosphere begins to fall back down to Earth.

As it forms, it begins to cool, forming a glass-like substance.

30 minutes after impact

The huge tsunami that was created earlier, hits coastlines at 100 miles an hour.

This would have extinguished forest fires.

The Chicxulub crater begins rapidly filling up with seawater and then raining glass and rocks finally ends.

Three hours after impact

Wildfires would still be burning in North America but temperatures would have been cooling down in general.

Dinosaurs still alive in Montana would have had their eardrums ripped apart by a deafening sonic boom.

This would have been the sound of the asteroid impact as it would take around three hours to travel 2,000 miles northward.

Four hours after impact

Electrical storms would now be happening all over the world and further tsunamis would have been caused by landslides and Earthquakes.

In Western Europe, earthquakes and wildfires would have been plaguing the land.

Ten hours after

North America is now cooler but the air is full of smoke from all the fires.

Herds of triceratops are now dead or dying in swamps.

One day later

Soot and dust stop the Sun from appearing.

This is the first day of what scientists call the Cenozoic or ‘recent’ era.

Debris is still flying up from the crater.

Fragments of it are on their way to orbit the Sun and some will land on Mars and the moons of Saturn and Jupiter.

Any microbes on these fragments may now be life exported from Earth to space.

One week after impact

The sky is so dark that plants can't photosynthesize and begin to die.

This means any large herbivores that did survive the impact are beginning to starve to death.

All the creatures that have died are causing a devastating knock-on effect on the food chain for animals in the sea and on land.

Two weeks after impact

Avian dinosaurs, a close relative of birds, are showing signs that they will survive the apocalypse.

The ability to fly means they could escape the worst areas, they bread faster than large creatures and adapt better to new environments.

These survivors will eventually become the millions of birds we know today.

Two months after impact

The fires have died down so Earth is now cold and dark.

The darkness from dust will continue for another two months.

Any animal larger than a crocodile has been wiped out.

The atmosphere is full of carbon dioxide, methane and carbon monoxide.

Acid rain is falling and the world is much quieter than it was two weeks ago.

The dinosaurs are gone forever

The dust eventually clears and sunlight returns to the planet.

Earth eventually recovers.

However, the demise of the dinosaurs means that mammals have been given a chance to rule the world.

Soon the earliest primate and our own distant ancestor forms.

The asteroid may have spelled the end for the dinosaurs but without it, we may not be here today.

This story originally appeared in The Sun.