WASHINGTON, D.C. — A meteor’s roaring crash into Antarctica – larger and earlier than the impact that killed the dinosaurs – caused the biggest mass extinction in Earth’s history and more than likely spawned the Australian continent. Ohio State University scientists said the 483km wide crater is now hidden more than 1.6km beneath the East Antarctic Ice Sheet. ‘Gravity measurements that reveal its existence suggest it could date back about 250 million years – the time of the Permian-Triassic extinction, when almost all animal life on Earth died out,’ said the scientists. ‘Its size and location – in the Wilkes Land region of East Antarctica, south of Australia – also suggest it could have begun the break-up of the Gondwana super-continent by creating the tectonic rift that pushed Australia northward.’ Scientists believe the Permian-Triassic extinction paved the way for the dinosaurs to rise to prominence. Wilkes Land meteor was 48.3km wide The Wilkes Land crater is more than twice the size of the Chicxulub crater in Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula, which marks the impact that may have killed the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. The Chicxulub meteor is thought to have been 9.6km wide. […]

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