A 9-kilometre-wide asteroid hit Earth 66 million years ago near Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.
The impact created a 180-kilometre-wide Chicxulub crater and caused the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction event that wiped out 75 per cent of Earth’s biodiversity which included almost all of the dinosaurs.
However, a study published in the Nature journal Scientific Reports found that the event was only so devastating because of the location the asteroid hit.
When the asteroid hit Earth, it caused earthquakes, triggered firestorm, massive tsunamis, and filled the air with gas, resulting in global cooling.
Researchers claim that the huge dust and soot cloud necessary for such a global catastrophe could only be as a result of a direct impact on rocks in the shallow water that are rich in hydrocarbons.
Meaning that the devastation would not have happened if the asteroid had hit harder rock, which is found on 87 per cent of Earth’s surface.
The rocks of the Yucatan Peninsula contain hydrocarbons which are found in only 13 percent of the planet’s surface layers.
The extinction of dinosaurs and around 75 per cent of all land and sea animals lead to the evolution of mammals and humans.
The collision covered the planet with a black cloud and triggered extreme global cooling.
The impact chilled the planet to an average of 14-18 degrees Fahrenheit.
Geochemist Professor Kunio Kaiho, of Tohoku University, Sendai, Japan, said: “The site of asteroid impact, therefore, changed the history of life on Earth.
“Here we show the probability of significant global cooling, mass extinction, and the subsequent appearance of mammals was quite low after an asteroid impact on the Earth’s surface.
“This significant event could have occurred if the asteroid hit the hydrocarbon-rich areas occupying approximately 13 per cent of the Earth’s surface.”
The study which was published in a Scientific Report found that the asteroid resulted in an ecosystem collapse which included the devastation of land vegetation.
Dr Kaiho from the Meteorological Research Institute, Tsukuba said: “The probability of mass extinction occurring after an asteroid that could hit a random location on the Earth’s surface was approximately 13 per cent when the Chicxulub-scale asteroid hit the Earth.
“Soot could be the main cause of mass extinction after an asteroid impact.
“The history of life on Earth could have varied, then, according to the impact site, and depended on minute differences in the orbital forcing of asteroids.’