The Barringer Crater shown in the adjacent image (Ref) is only the best-preserved of large meteor impacts. There is evidence for many more. Here is a link to some views of terrestrial impact craters, and here is a clickable map of terrestrial impact structure locations. Although in many instances these impact structures have been partially obliterated by erosion and tectonics, there is rather strong evidence that most are fossil impact craters.
no documented record of a human being killed by a meteorite, but in recent
have crashed into bedrooms in Alabama, dining rooms in Connecticut, and a car
in New York
On October 9, 1992, a fireball was seen streaking across the sky
Kentucky to New York. At least 14 people captured part of the fireball on
videotape; here is a spectacular
MPEG movie (1 MB MPEG) of the fireball
A 12-kilogram stony meteorite (chondrite) from
the fireball fell in
Peekskill, New York, smashed the trunk of a parked
and came to
rest beneath it.
These are the first motion picture recordings of a
fireball with an associated
Here is a short MPEG movie of a -4 magnitude
Delta Capricornid fireball (253 kB MPEG)
recorded near Hannover, Germany, on January 5, 1995.
The K-T Event and the Extinction of the Dinosaurs
Sixty-five million years ago,
about 70 percent of all species
then living on Earth disappeared within a very short period in what is
termed the Cretaceous-Tertiary Mass Extinction---commonly known as
the K-T Event (K is
used to denote the Cretaceous period rather than C to avoid confusion with
other periods such as the Cambrian). Among the
species that disappeared were the last of the dinosaurs. The cause of this
and other sudden species extinctions
has long been an important and controversial topic.
In 1980, physicist Luis Alvarez and coworkers reported finding a very high concentration of the element iridium in the sedimentary clay layer laid down at the time of the K-T extinction. On Earth, iridium is very rare in the crust because it was concentrated in Earth's core when it was largely molten. However, chondritic meteorites often still have the primordial solar system abundances of these elements. This led Alvarez et al to suggest that a chondritic asteroid 10 kilometers in diameter that struck the Earth in the K-T period would contain enough iridium to account for the worldwide clay layer iridium enhancement, and that this meteor impact could also have triggered dramatic climatic changes that produced the K-T extinction.
The Chicxulub structure has been age dated at 65 million years, and additional studies support its interpretation as a relic impact crater (here is a summary; here is a natural history museum exhibit concerning the event and recent ocean core sampling providing support for the K-T hypothesis). Although the original crater has been eroded and covered with sediment, models suggest that shortly after formation the Chicxulub crater may have resembled the crater Strindberg on Mercury.
Although this is a compelling hypothesis with substantial support, it remains controversial and has broad but not yet uniform acceptance within the scientific community. It is estimated that impacts of asteroids as large as the one thought responsible for the K-T extinction occur about once every hundred million years (more info).