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Mass Extinctions Directly Linked to Comet and Asteroid Showers, Say Researchers

Oct 21, 2015 06:04 PM EDT

After taking a closer look at the age of impact craters on Earth, researchers suggest that periodic mass extinctions occurring over the past 260 million years are directly linked to comet or asteroid showers, according to a news release.  

Using more accurate age estimates, researchers from New York University and Carnegie Institution's Department of Global Ecology performed a time-series analysis of the impact crater, which revealed a pattern of both impacts and extinction events taking place every 26 million years. Essentially, this means that the timing of five out of the six largest impact craters on earth correlate with mass extinction events, including the Chicxulub impact 65 million years ago that led to the dinosaur's mass exit, researchers explained in the release.

"The correlation between the formation of these impacts and extinction events over the past 260 million years is striking and suggests a cause-and-effect relationship," Michael Rampino, a geologist from New York University, said in a statement.

The cycle of impacts can be linked to the periodic motion of the Sun and planets in our galaxy, researchers explained in their study.

"This cosmic cycle of death and destruction has without a doubt affected the history of life on our planet," Rampino added.

Their study was recently published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

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