How cockroaches survived the asteroid
When the rock now known as the Chicxulub impactor plummeted from outer space and slammed into the Earth 66 million years ago, cockroaches were there. The impact caused a massive earthquake, and scientists think it also triggered volcanic eruptions thousands of miles from the impact site. How could roaches a couple of inches long survive when so many powerful animals went extinct? It turns out that they were nicely equipped to live through a meteoric catastrophe. If you’ve ever seen a cockroach, you’ve probably noticed that their bodies are very flat.
With little sunlight, surviving plants struggled to grow, and many other organisms that relied on those plants went hungry. This means they will eat most foods that come from animals or plants as well as cardboard, some kinds of clothing and even poop. Another helpful trait is that cockroaches lay their eggs in little protective cases. Like phone cases, oothecae are hard and protect their contents from physical damage and other threats, such as flooding and drought. Modern cockroaches are little survivors that can live just about anywhere on land, from the heat of the tropics to some of the coldest parts of the globe.
A handful of these species like to live with humans and quickly become pests. When large numbers of roaches are present in unsanitary places, they can spread diseases. Cockroach pests are hard to manage because they can resist many chemical insecticides and because they have the same abilities that helped their ancestors outlive many dinosaurs. As a scientist, I see all insects as beautiful, six-legged inspirations.
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