Scientists believe they found the answer to why a great extinction of life took place on Earth roughly 250 million years ago. They say a 50km wide meteor crashed into Earth, creating a 500km wide crater deep under the Wilkes Land region of Antarctica.
This massive explosion probably created the continent of Australia, by forcing it to break away from the existing land mass.
The incredible discovery caused huge excitement among Australian scientists last night. It could be the missing link in the geological formation of the continents. It would also answer why life on Earth was almost completely wiped out hundreds of millions of years ago.
The meteor the size of Sydney struck 250 million years ago and must have been the biggest explosion ever seen on the planet, far bigger than the 10-kilometre-wide meteor which hit east of Mexico 65 million years ago, wiping out the dinosaurs.
Ohio State University scientists who found the crater said the massive Antarctic crater could explain the global extinction in the Permian-Triassic period when all animal life on Earth died out, clearing the way for the dinosaurs.
The massive impact probably broke up the ancient continent of Gondwanaland, pushing Australia out on its long drift north to its current position. The landmass that became India shot off first, while Africa and South America broke off later.