Asteroid strikes ‘increase threefold over last 300m years’

The rate at which asteroids are slamming into Earth has nearly tripled since the dinosaurs first roamed, according to a survey of the scars left behind.

Researchers worked out the rate of asteroid strikes on the moon and the Earth and found that in the past 290m years the number of collisions had increased dramatically.

Before that time, the planet suffered an asteroid strike about once every 3m years, but since then the rate has risen to once nearly every 1m years. The figures are based on collisions that left craters at least 10km (6.2 miles) wide.

“The cratering rate changes instantaneously,” said Thomas Gernon, an Earth scientist at the University of Southampton and a fellow of the Turing Institute. “There’s an order of two to three increase in asteroid strikes from 290m years ago.”

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