Asteroid once-believed to have wiped out dinosaurs may have actually helped them

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Dinosaurs Killed by One-Two Punch of Asteroid And Volcano

Around 215 million years ago, an asteroid about two to five miles across scorched through earth's atmosphere and slammed into the northern region of the supercontinent Pangaea, scientists believe.

The pleasingly circular crater left behind now sits in the sparsely populated Manicouagan Region of Quebec, Canada, and is the largest clearly visible crater on earth — roughly ten times the size of New York City.

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Scientists have long puzzled over possible impacts that the so-called "Manicouagan event" had on life. At one point, it was thought that it may have caused the Jurassic-Triassic extinction, the one that led to the global dominance of dinosaurs.

But it turned out that the Manicouagan event took place about 12 million years too early, leaving scientists scratching their chins. Now a study published in the journal Scientific Reports suggests that the Manicouagan impact may have created a mass extinction of its own and may have contributed to the Jurassic-Triassic extinction and the resulting dino-domination, after all.

See photos of the crater from the Manicouagan event as it appears today:

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Manicouagan event crater
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Manicouagan event crater
The iconic Manicouagan meteor crater in Quebec is pictured in this handout photo taken March 14, 2013, courtesy of the Canadian Space Agency. The crater is one of the oldest known impact craters on Earth, still visible from space and is located primarily in Manicouagan Regional County Municipality in the Côte-Nord region of Québec. REUTERS/CSA/Chris Hadfield/Handout (CANADA - Tags: SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY ENVIRONMENT) FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
Remnants of one of the largest impact craters still preserved on the surface of the Earth. Occurring about 212 million years ago. Lake Manicouagan in northern Quebec, Canada. June 1, 2001. (Photo by: Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images)
Manicouagan Impact Structure in Quebec, Canada. The crater, dated at 214 million years. It has been proposed that the impact was created by an asteroid with a diameter of about 3.1 miles (5 kilometres). (Photo by: Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images)
Manicouagan Crater, The Manicouagan Reservoir Crater In Quebec, Canada, Is One Of The Largest Meteorite Craters In The World, It Was Formed When The Earth Was Blasted By A Giant Meteorite At The End Of The Triassic Period Some 210 Million Years Ago. (Phot
Manicouagan Crater, The Largest And Oldest Crater Manicouagan Crater, Quebec, Canada, Taken April 28, 2002, From The International Space Station. (Photo By Encyclopaedia Britannica/UIG Via Getty Images)
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Available data suggest that three types of sea critters (microscopic radiolarians, eel-like conodonts, and mollusks called ammonoids) went through three big extinction phases leading up to the Jurassic-Triassic. The later die-offs have been connected to ocean anoxia and volcanic eruptions. But the first — which appears to be massive and global in scale — remained a mystery.

In an attempt to solve it, a team of Japanese researchers looked at fossils embedded in a claystone seafloor area of the former super ocean, the Panthalassa, which once surrounded Pangaea. They found that right around the time of the Manicouagan impact, many species of tiny radiolarians vanished. The resulting collapse of the ocean ecosystem, the researchers hypothesize, may have caused the mass extinction of the conodonts and ammonoids.

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The Jurassic-Triassic extinction wiped out 34 percent of marine species, and on land, many reptiles, amphibians, and other creatures vanished. Dinosaurs took advantage of the ecological vacancies, rising to prominence during the Jurassic.

RELATED: See some of the wildest dinosaurs scientists believe existed

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Dinosaur bones and illustrations
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Dinosaur bones and illustrations
This undated handout image provided by Michael Skrepnick, Dinosaurs in Art, Nature Publishing Group, shows a Deinocheirus. Nearly 50 years ago, scientists found two large powerful arm bones of a new dinosaur species in Mongolia and figured it was a fearsome critter with killer claws. Now scientists have found the rest of the dinosaur and have new descriptions for the dinosaur: 'goofy'€ and 'weird.'€ The dinosaur probably lumbered along like a cross between TV dinosaur Barney and Jar Jar Binks of Star Wars fame: 16-feet tall, 36-foot long, 7-tons with a duckbill on its head and a hump-like sail on its back. Throw in those killer claws, tufts of feathers here and there, and no teeth _ and try not to snicker. And if that'€™s not enough, it ate like a giant vacuum cleaner. (AP Photo/Michael Skrepnick, Dinosaurs in Art, Nature Publishing Group)
This undated artist rendering provided by the journal Science shows the dinosaur lineage which evolved into birds shrank in body size continuously for 50 million years. From left are, the ancestral neotheropod, the ancestral tetanuran, the ancestral coelurosaur, the ancestral paravian and Archaeopteryx. Scientists have mapped how one group of dinosaurs evolved from the likes of the fearsome Tyrannosaurus rex and primitive Herrerasaurus to the welcome robin and cute hummingbird. The surprisingly steady shrinking and elegant evolution of some Triassic dinosaurs is detailed in the journal Science on Thursday. Comparing fossils of 120 different species and 1,500 skeletal features, especially leg bones, researchers constructed a detailed family tree of theropod dinosaurs. That suborder of dinos survives to this day as birds, however unrecognizable and improbable it sounds. (AP Photo/Davide Bonnadonna, Science)
This artist rendering provided by Jeffrey Martz shows a Daemonosaurus chauliodus and its size relative to an modern American quarter. The species name chauliodus is derived from the Greek word for “buck-toothed” and refers to the species’ big slanted front teeth. The surprising discovery of a fossil of a sharp-toothed beast that lurked in what is now the western U.S. more than 200 million years ago is filling a gap in dinosaur evolution. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Martz)
A worker moves a shipping case at the Museum of Natural Science after installing Sue, claimed to be the largest, most complete, and best preserved Tyrannosaurus rex, in Halifax on Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2011. Sue is named for paleontologist Sue Hendrickson, who discovered the dinosaur remains during a fossil-hunting trip in the summer of 1990. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Andrew Vaughan)
This image provided by the Carnegie Museum of Natural History shows the skull of Daemonosaurus chauliodus, narrow and relatively deep, measuring 5.5 inches long from the tip of its snout to the back of the skull and has proportionately large eye sockets. The upper jaw has large, forward-slanted front teeth. The surprising discovery of a fossil of a sharp-toothed beast that lurked in what is now the western U.S. more than 200 million years ago is filling a gap in dinosaur evolution. (AP Photo/Carnegie Museum of Natural History)
In this January 2014 photo released on Saturday, May 17, 2014 by the Museo Paletontológico Egidio Feruglio, Spanish paleontologist Jose Ignacio Canudo lies alongside a sauropod dinosaur femur, believed to be the largest in the world, in Trelew, Argentina. Paleontologists from the Museo Paletontológico Egidio Feruglio, announced Friday, May 16, 201, the discovery of the fossil remains of the sauropod dinosaur near Trelew. (AP Photo/Museo Paletontológico Egidio Feruglio)
FILE - In this May 24, 2007 file photo, Ken Ham, founder of the nonprofit ministry Answers in Genesis, poses with one of his favorite animatronic dinosaurs during a tour of the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Ky. Ham, who recently debated evolution with TV's "Science Guy" Bill Nye, says fundraising after the widely watched event helped to revive stalled plans to build a 510-foot replica of Noah's Ark. (AP Photo/Ed Reinke, File)
Fossil of a short-tailed pterosaur, a flying reptile, Pterodactylus kochi, Upper Jurassic Solnhofen limestone, Eichstaett, Germany, Photographed under controlled conditions (Specimen courtesy of Raimund Albersdoerfer, Germany), (Photo by Wild Horizons/UIG via Getty Images)
Fossil of a short-tailed pterosaur, a flying reptile, Pterodactylus kochi, Upper Jurassic Solnhofen limestone, Solnhofen, Bavaria, Germany, Photographed under controlled conditions (Specimen courtesy of Raimund Albersdoerfer, Germany), (Photo by Wild Horizons/UIG via Getty Images)
CANADA - OCTOBER 30: The spiked skull of a Styracosaurus, Toronto, Canada (Photo by Ira Block/National Geographic/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 09: A Hyolith from the Cambrian has an armored shell body, Museum of Natural History, Washington, District of Columbia (Photo by O. Louis Mazzatenta/National Geographic/Getty Images)
CANADA - MAY 30: The skull and crest of a Parasaurolophus, Toronto, Canada (Photo by Ira Block/National Geographic/Getty Images)
UNSPECIFIED - MARCH 23: Struthiomimus dinosaur hunting a dragonfly (Struthiomimus altus) (Photo by De Agostini Picture Library/De Agostini/Getty Images)
UNSPECIFIED - MARCH 23: Side profile of an aellosaurus walking (Photo by De Agostini Picture Library/De Agostini/Getty Images)
06/09/98 - Location- Smithsonian Natural History Museum caption- Nathan Myhrvold has some interesting theories on the evolution, disappearance of dinosaurs. His models have been created on computer. His day job is Chief Technical Officer of Microsoft. Rear is the Diplodocus that has the long tail with the fused sections in all the tails, leading Myhrvold to the belief that the dinosaur cracked its tail like a whip, the end section moving near the speed of sound. - Photo By Craig Herndon TWP (Photo by Craig Herndon/The Washington Post/Getty Images)
The skull and jawbone of a Tyrannosaurus bataar skeleton is displayed during a ceremony of its repatriation to Mongolia, in New York, Monday, May 6, 2013. The 70-million-year-old fossil was looted from the Gobi Desert and illegally smuggled into the U.S. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
A preview of a Tyrannosaurus rex growth exhibit features three specimens of varying ages, at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2011. Featured are fossils of a 30-foot-long young adult, about 18 years old, top right; a 20-foot-long juvenile, about 14, left; and an 11-foot-long baby, about 2, said to be the youngest known specimen, right. The T. rex trio will be the centerpiece of a new, expanded Dinosaur Hall, with some 300 fossils, 20 full-body specimens, interactive and video exhibits, in two large galleries that will more than double the previous space. The hall is scheduled to open to the public in July, 2011. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)
An image from documents released from the U.S. Attorney's office, Monday, June 18, 2012 shows the fossil of a Tyrannosaurus bataar dinosaur at the center of a lawsuit demanding its return to Mongolia. A lawsuit brought by the U.S. government demanded Monday June 18, 2012, the fossil be turned over to the United States by an auction house so that it can be returned to its home in Mongolia. (AP Photo/U.S Attorney Office for the Southern District of New York, Handout)
People look at a model of Uberabatitan Ribeiroi, a Late Cretaceous period dinosaur, is seen at the Federal University, in Rio de Janeiro, Wednesday, Sept. 24, 2008. Three specimens were found in different fossil sites of Uberaba County, in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais. The Uberabatitan Ribeiroi, which lived in what is currently Brazil some 65 million years ago, had a length of more than 20 meters and weighed some 16 tons. (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo)
Panthera leo from the cuaternari Russia (Kike Calvo via AP Images)
In this image released by the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology & Paleoanthropology in Beijing Wednesday June 13, 2007, a sketch of a newly discovered Gigantoraptor dinosaur is seen compared to a human. Fossilized bones uncovered in the Erlian Basin of northern China's Inner Mongolia region show that the Gigantoraptor erlianensis was about 8 meters (26 feet) in length and weighed 1,400 kilograms (3,000 pounds), said Xu Xing, a paleontologist at the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology & Paleoanthropology in Beijing. The discovery of the giant, birdlike dinosaur indicates a more complicated evolutionary process for birds than originally thought, scientists said Wednesday. (AP Photo/Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology & Paleoanthropology, Beijing, HO)
In this image released by the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology & Paleoanthropology in Beijing Wednesday June 13, 2007, an artists impression of a newly discovered Gigantoraptor dinosaur, top, with other smaller dinosaurs is seen. Fossilized bones uncovered in the Erlian Basin of northern China's Inner Mongolia region show that the Gigantoraptor erlianensis was about 8 meters (26 feet) in length and weighed 1,400 kilograms (3,000 pounds), said Xu Xing, a paleontologist at the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology & Paleoanthropology in Beijing. The discovery of the giant, birdlike dinosaur indicates a more complicated evolutionary process for birds than originally thought, scientists said Wednesday. (AP Photo/Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology & Paleoanthropology, Beijing, HO)
Dr Adam Yates, from the Bernard Price Institute for Paleontological Research, looks at the 'Aardonyx Celestae', a newly discovered fossil skeleton in Johannesburg on November 11, 2009. South African palaeontologists announced the discovery of a new species of 'transition' dinosaur that straddles the divide between the four-legged giant plant-eating sauropods and their bipedal carnivorous predecessors. The dinosaur roamed the area between 183 million and 200 million years ago, measured between 7 and 9 metres long. The specimen was a juvenile, which was aged between 7 and 10 years. The Aardonyx Celestae, as the new dinosaur has been named, was discovered on a farm in central Free State province in the Karoo Basin, an area rich in fossils. AFP PHOTO / ALEXANDER JOE (Photo credit should read ALEXANDER JOE/AFP/Getty Images)
UNDATED - In this handout provided by the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, an artist's redering depicts a previously unknown bird-like dinosaur that was formally introduced to the scientific community by scientists with the Smithsonians National Museum of Natural History, the Carnegie Museum of Natural History and the University of Utah March 19, 2014. Dubbed Anzu wyliei, referring both to a mythological feathered demon and the name of a Carnegie museum trustee's grandson, the seven-foot-tall creature weighed about 500 pounds when it roamed western North America 66 to 68 million years ago. (Illustration by Mark Klingler/Carnegie Museum of Natural History via Getty Images)
UNSPECIFIED - CIRCA 2003: Reconstruction of the flora and fauna of a marshy environment from the Jurassic Period, drawing. (Photo by DeAgostini/Getty Images)
A general view of atmosphere seen at Twentieth Century Fox 'Walking with Dinosaurs', on Thursday, Dec, 12, 2013 in Los Angeles. (Photo by Eric Charbonneau/Invision for Twentieth Century Fox/AP Images)
An Apatosaurus display is seen at Field Station Dinosaurs in Secaucus, N.J., Friday, May 25, 2012. There will be 31 types of life-sized dinosasurs displayed at the Jurassic expedition that opens Saturday, May 26. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
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According to the scientists, the study shows that asteroid impacts like the Manicouagan event can have profound effects on oceanic ecosystems. And as for the asteroid/dinosaur relationship, perhaps it can be summed up by the classic parental threat: "I brought you into this world, and I can take you out."

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