Chicxulub Impact Changed Tropical Rain Forest Biodiversity Forever

The cradles of life in neotropical regions of the planet remain a mystery for geologists and paleontologists. But new research provides some clues, suggesting that the neotropics—a geographic area consisting of Central and South America, the Caribbean, and the tropical regions of southern North America—were significantly different before and after the Chicxulub asteroid impact 66 million years ago.

Neotropical rain forests shelter more than 90,000 plant species—nearly 50% of the total biodiversity on the planet. These ecosystems produce high rates of oxygen, in addition to sequestering carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, which helps balance the global climate.

Mónica Carvalho, a Colombian paleobiologist at the Smithsonian…

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