Meteor that wiped out dinosaurs reset planet
Even Armageddon can have a silver lining, according to a new discovery about what followed the massive meteor impact that wiped out the dinosaurs.
Around 66 million years ago, a 10-kilometre wide asteroid or comet smashed into the Earth off Mexico's Yucatan peninsular, producing a crater 150 kilometres across.
Three quarters of all plant and animal species - including the dinosaurs - became extinct after the event which triggered mega-tsunami, wildfires, global earthquakes and an "impact winter" caused by dust blotting out the Sun.
But new research suggests the cataclysm proved a turning point for the deciduous plants that now dominate Earth.
After the impact, fast-growing deciduous species rapidly began to take over from the previously ubiquitous evergreens.
Dr Benjamin Blonder, from the University of Arizona in the US, said: "If you think about a mass extinction caused by a catastrophic event such as a meteorite impacting Earth, you might imagine all species are equally likely to die.
"Survival of the fittest doesn't apply - the impact is like a reset button. The alternative hypothesis, however, is that some species had properties that enabled them to survive.
"Our study provides evidence of a dramatic shift from slow-growing plants to fast-growing species. This tells us that the extinction was not random."