The explosion of one or several massive stars 2.6 million years ago to 150 light years that bombarded the Earth with cosmic radiation could have caused the climate change that ended up with more than a third of the Pliocene ocean fauna , including the giant shark megalodon, suggests a scientific research carried out by experts from the University of Kansas (United States).
That study, published on November 27 in the journal Astrobiology, used as evidence the radioactive trace that this explosion -known as a supernova- left on the seabed; in particular, isotope deposits of iron-60 , a chemical element that has a half-life of around 2.6 million years and whose age is relatively easy to determine.
As the iron-60 isotopes that formed with our planet some 4.54 billion years ago disintegrated long ago, these scientists conclude that those that still exist must have arrived from space as a consequence of that event.
Adrian Melott, the lead author of the work, has carried out “research like this for 15 years” and, so far, “always relied on what we know about the universe in general”; that is, “that these supernovas must have affected the Earth at some time”.
However, “this time is different” because “we have evidence of nearby events” that occurred “at certain times”, so “we can compute how they could have affected the Earth” by comparing that data “with what we know about what then it happened “and obtain results” much more specific, “said this scientist.
In this way, that ‘tsunami’ of cosmic radiation that hit the Earth 2.6 million years ago increased the rate of mutations and cancer by 50% for animals with a body mass similar to that of a human and more in the species with a larger size. This hypothesis coincides with the fact that the extinction affected with greater force the marine fauna of shallower waters , which would have received radioactive rays more easily.
Benjamin Diaz started working for Debate Report in 2017. Ben grew up in a small town in northern Ontario. He studied chemistry in college, graduated, and married his wife a year later. Benhas been a proud Torontonian for the past 10 years. He covers politics and the economy. Previously he wrote for CTV News and the Huffington Post Canada.