When the asteroid that struck the current Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico arrived on Earth, it made life incredibly difficult for almost all living beings. Its powerful effects dramatically impacted the life of the plants and destabilized the food chain in a way that many species simply could not recover. With all this, it is expected that life near the crater has been almost nonexistent, but new research suggests that the impact site itself was full of microorganisms almost immediately.
In the new document, which was published this week in Nature scientists led by the University of Texas at Austin discovered that the mbadive crater became another habitat for marine life in a few years after of the arrival of the asteroid.
"We found life in the crater a few years of impact, which is really fast, surprisingly fast," explains Chris Lowery, of the Institute of Geophysics at the University of Texas, and lead author of the study. "It shows that there is not much predictability of recovery in general."
The discovery is courtesy of a drilling expedition led by scientists who examined the crater left by the asteroid. As an event timeline, the rock layers reveal activity at the impact site in the many years after the arrival of the asteroid. In that rock, researchers discovered tiny microfossils of organisms that called the crater home almost immediately after its creation.
"Microfossils allow you to see this whole picture of the community about what is happening," Lowery explains. "They get a piece of rock and there are thousands of microfossils there, so we can see changes in the population with a high degree of confidence … and we can use that as a kind of proxy for larger scale organisms."  Evidence shows that small marine creatures such as shrimp were building houses in the crater in a couple of years after the asteroid collapsed, and 30,000 years later the entire area was a bustling ecosystem with a fully developed food chain, such as any other area of the ocean.
It is the incredible preservation of the bottom of the sea in the crater that has allowed researchers to provide a detailed timeline.
"You can see layers in this nucleus, while in others, they" "In general, they are mixed, which means that the fossil and material record is completely stirred, and small intervals of time can not be resolved" , explains Timothy Bralower of the State University of Pennsylvania, co-author of the paper. "We have a fossil record here where we can solve the daily, weekly, monthly, annual changes."