Scientists have dubbed a newly discovered crater the ‘dinosaur killer cousin’, believing the meteorite could have hit Earth around the same time as the asteroid that wiped out prehistoric life millions of years ago .
The hidden impact site was discovered more than 984 feet below the seabed, about 248 miles off the coast of Guinea in West Africa.
Dr Uisdean Nicholson of Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, Scotland, dubbed the incredible discovery the ‘Nadir Crater’.
With a diameter of 5 miles, it’s likely that the asteroid that caused it had a diameter of just under 0.3 miles.
“These readings are a bit like an ultrasound of the Earth. I’ve probably spent the last 20 years performing them, but I’ve never seen anything like it,’ Dr Nicholson told BBC News.
“Nadir’s shape is diagnostic of an asteroid impact. There is a raised ledge surrounding a central uplift area and then layers of debris extending outward.
The asteroid that created the Chicxulub crater – the impact that would have wiped out the dinosaurs – in the Gulf of Mexico is estimated to have been around 7.4 miles in diameter and changed planet Earth forever.
The impact created a huge depression 200 km wide, causing a series of earthquakes and tsunamis, while setting much of the planet ablaze.
In comparison, the effects of a Nadir-sized asteroid would have been weaker, but not negligible.
“Our simulations suggest this crater was caused by the collision of a 1,312 mile wide asteroid in 1,640 to 2,624 feet of water,” said Dr Veronica Bray of the University of Arizona.
“It would have generated a tsunami over 3,280 feet high, as well as an earthquake of about magnitude 6.5.
“The energy released would have been about 1,000 times that of the January 2022 eruption and tsunami in Tonga.”
Dr Nicholson said the effects of the Chicxulub impact would have been at least 10 million times greater.