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Prehistoric humans not wiped out by comet, say researchers

Date:
January 30, 2013
Source:
University of Royal Holloway London
Summary:
Comet explosions did not end the prehistoric human culture, known as Clovis, in North America 13,000 years ago, according to new research.

Arrow head. The Clovis culture is named after the town in New Mexico, where distinct stone tools were found in the 1920s and 1930s.
Credit: © underb / Fotolia

Comet explosions did not end the prehistoric human culture, known as Clovis, in North America 13,000 years ago, according to research published in the journal Geophysical Monograph Series.

Researchers from Royal Holloway university, together with Sandia National Laboratories and 13 other universities across the United States and Europe, have found evidence which rebuts the belief that a large impact or airburst caused a significant and abrupt change to Earth's climate and terminated the Clovis culture. They argue that other explanations must be found for the apparent disappearance.

Clovis is the name archaeologists have given to the earliest well-established human culture in the North American continent. It is named after the town in New Mexico, where distinct stone tools were found in the 1920s and 1930s.

Researchers argue that no appropriately sized impact craters from that time period have been discovered, and no shocked material or any other features of impact have been found in sediments. They also found that samples presented in support of the impact hypothesis were contaminated with modern material and that no physics model can support the theory.

"The theory has reached zombie status," said Professor Andrew Scott from the Department of Earth Sciences at Royal Holloway. "Whenever we are able to show flaws and think it is dead, it reappears with new, equally unsatisfactory, arguments.

"Hopefully new versions of the theory will be more carefully examined before they are published," he concluded.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Royal Holloway London. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. M. Boslough, K. Nicoll, V. Holliday, T. L. Daulton, D. Meltzer, N. Pinter, A. C. Scott, T. Surovell, P. Claeys, J. Gill, F. Paquay, J. Marlon, P. Bartlein, C. Whitlock, D. Grayson, and A. J. T. Jull. Arguments and Evidence Against a Younger Dryas Impact Event. Climates, Landscapes, and Civilizations, Geophysical Monograph Series, 2012; 198: 13-26 DOI: 10.1029/2012GM001209

Cite This Page:

University of Royal Holloway London. "Prehistoric humans not wiped out by comet, say researchers." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 January 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130130082447.htm>.
University of Royal Holloway London. (2013, January 30). Prehistoric humans not wiped out by comet, say researchers. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130130082447.htm
University of Royal Holloway London. "Prehistoric humans not wiped out by comet, say researchers." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130130082447.htm (accessed August 21, 2014).

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Study Rebuts Hypothesis That Comet Attacks Ended 9,000-Year-Old Clovis Culture

Jan. 31, 2013 — Rebutting a speculative hypothesis that comet explosions changed Earth's climate sufficiently to end the Clovis culture in North America about 13,000 years ago, researchers assert that other ... read more
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