It's official: Scientists figured out what killed the dinosaurs

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Feb 11, 2013, 4:11 PM EST

Theories have been bouncing around ever since we started pulling gigantic fossils out of the ground, but now scientists think they’ve definitively figured out what killed the dinosaurs.

Not surprisingly, the prevailing theory that an asteroid was to blame looks to be correct, as a new study shows that an apparent asteroid strike in Mexico was the likely cause of the dinos’ demise.

Scientists have long thought the 100-mile-wide crater left behind by an asteroid strike in Chicxulub, Mexico, was the cause of extinction, but the timelines never added up. Until now. Scientists originally thought the strike happened 300,000 years before dinosaurs went extinct, though a new study shows the events were more like 33,000 years apart—a pretty small window once you factor in the overall age of the planet.

Berkeley Geochronology Center Director Paul Renne told LiveScience they figured it all out by facilitating a radiometric dating study of debris near the strike. Scientist believe the asteroid was approximately six miles wide, which is big enough to catastrophically affect the environment, cause firestorms and block out the sun, killing about three-fourths of life on the planet.

Combined with an already-changing climate, the study concludes that the asteroid strike was a major catalyst to clear the way for humanity to take over the planet. At least until we go all Jurassic Park and bring the dinos back, of course.

If only those poor dinosaurs had Bruce Willis, a rocket and a spunky team of astronaut miners a few hundred thousand years ago to knock that thing off course. 

(The Verge via LiveScience)