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WHEN AN ASTEROID SLAMMED the Yucatán Peninsula 66 million years ago, it was bad news for dinosaurs — and about 75 percent of plant and animal life on the planet. This event marks the Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary and the fiery end of the Mesozoic Era.
But without this cataclysmic impact, we wouldn’t have the iconic neotropical rainforests that spread across Central and South America today. This finding was published Thursday in the journal Science.
Co-lead author Carlos Jaramillo, a paleobiologist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama, tells Inverse the event “transformed the evolutionary trajectory of the rainforest forever.”
“The forest that we have today is the byproduct of what happened at that precise time.”