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Massive impact did not wipe out prehistoric humans, say researchers

Researchers from the Royal Holloway university contend that a comet did not wipe out prehistoric humans in North America 13,000 years ago, according to a news release from the university.

Researchers from Royal Holloway, collaborating with researchers from Sandia National Laboratories and 13 other universities across the United States and Europe,  have discovered evidence which proves false the theory that a massive impact or airburst brought about a significant change to the Earth’s climate and ended the Clovis culture. They believe that other explanations must be discussed for the apparent disappearance of Clovis culture in North America 13,000 years ago.

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

Without any evidence of appropriately sized impact craters from the time period or shocked material or any other features of impact having been discovered, researchers contend that Clovis culture was not eliminated by a comet. Researchers also discovered that samples presented in support of the impact theory were contaminated with modern material.

“The theory has reached zombie status,” said Professor Andrew Scott from the Department of Earth Sciences at Royal Holloway in a statement. “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.”

The study’s findings were recently described in detail in the journal Geophysical Monograph Series.

Photo credit: Desert Bug.

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