– About 12,800 years ago, something strange happened in North America. The Clovis people and many ancient beasts such as mastodon, mammoth and saber-toothed tiger suddenly disappeared.
What happened to them? Researchers now think platinum and an extraterrestrial impact can explain the mysterious disappearance of the Clovis people and the animals.
Archaeologists from the University of Carolina report they have discovered abundance of platinum, an element associated with cosmic objects like asteroids or comet at 11 Clovis excavation sites across the United States.
Abundance of platinum has been found in soil layers that coincided with the “Younger-Dryas,” a climatic period of extreme cooling that began around 12,800 ago and lasted about 1,400 years.
While the brief return to ice-age conditions during the Younger-Dryas has been well-documented by scientists, the reasons for it and the demise of the Clovis people and animals have remained unclear.
He calls the presence of platinum found in the soil layers at 11 archaeological sites in California, Arizona, New Mexico, Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina an anomaly.
“The presence of elevated platinum in archaeological sites is a confirmation of data previously reported for the Younger-Dryas onset several years ago in a Greenland ice-core.
Our data show that this anomaly is present in sediments from U.S. archaeological sites that date to the start of the Younger-Dryas event. This is consistent with the hypothesis that an extraterrestrial impact took place.”
Moore explains that the Younger-Dryas coincides with the end of Clovis culture and the extinction of more than 35 species of ice-age animals.
While evidence has shown that some of the animals were on the decline before Younger-Dryas, virtually none are found after it.
This strongly suggests an extinction event took place in North America.
The platinum anomaly is similar to the well-documented finding of iridium, another element associated with cosmic objects, that scientists have found in the rock layers dated 65 million years ago, from an impact that caused dinosaur extinction. That event is commonly known as Cretaceous-Tertiary or K-Pg by scientists.
According to Moore, the K-Pg dinosaur extinction was the result of a very large asteroid impact while the Younger-Dryas onset impact is likely the result of being hit by fragments of a much smaller sized comet or asteroid, possibly measuring up to two-thirds a mile in diameter.
“Another difference is that the Younger-Dryas impact event is not yet associated with any known impact crater,” Moore says. “This may be because the fragments of the large object struck the glacial ice-sheet or exploded in the atmosphere. Several candidate craters are under investigation but have not been confirmed.”
This could also explain what caused the sudden climate change 12,900 years ago. Temperatures rapidly plummeted and returned to glacial conditions for about a 1,200 year long period.
For some time now, scientists have suspected the answer to the climate change can be found in North America.