A new study conducted by a team of researchers has revealed that the ice age appeared on earth following an asteroid collision around 466 million years ago. This asteroid impact sent waves of dust towards earth for around two million years and surprisingly, this massive inflow of dust provided a chance for new species to evolve and thrive in the planet.
The asteroid that broke apart was located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Around 466 million years ago, it collided with an unknown space body and broke apart. Soon dust started flooding into the inner part of the solar system and this mammoth load of extraterrestrial dust played a crucial role in changing the earth's climate, thus contributing to cooling.
"Normally, Earth gains about 40,000 tons of extraterrestrial material every year. Imagine multiplying that by a factor of a thousand or ten thousand. Our hypothesis is that the large amounts of extraterrestrial dust over a timeframe of at least two million years played an important role in changing the climate on Earth, contributing to cooling," said Philip Heck, a curator at the Field Museum and associate professor at the University of Chicago, the study author, CNN reports.
The study published in the journal Science Advances revealed that the dust from the asteroid set a stage for the conditions we see on earth now. The giant dustcover above the earth's atmosphere created arctic conditions at the North and South poles and comparatively tropical conditions around regions near the equator.
It should be noted that before this ice age triggered by the asteroid explosion, climate all around the earth was similar, and there was absolutely no variation across the globe. Climate zones literally helped vertebrates to evolve, thus providing a new boost to the life on the earth.
Scientists who took part in the study also added that this gradual climate change that happened was a blessing to the earth, and it was not violent like the climate alteration that happened around 66 million years which wiped out the dinosaurs.