Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Large Comet Impact May Have Wiped Out Early Human Culture in North America

We have speculated here that seafarers from North America -- either Homo Neanderthal or Homo Sapiens -- arrived in eastern North America well before immigrants from Asia. But what happened to these early American settlers and their culture?

There is archaeological evidence that other cultures, possessing cruder tool technologies than the Clovis people, were present in North America before the earliest Clovis dates.

Is it possible that the culture of these "first Americans" was obliterated by a cosmic impact which led the the Younger Dryas cooling period?
A 16-member international team of researchers that includes James Kennett, professor of Earth science at UC Santa Barbara, has identified a nearly 13,000-year-old layer of thin, dark sediment buried in the floor of Lake Cuitzeo in central Mexico. The sediment layer contains an exotic assemblage of materials, including nanodiamonds, impact spherules, and more, which, according to the researchers, are the result of a cosmic body impacting Earth.

These new data are the latest to strongly support of a controversial hypothesis proposing that a major cosmic impact with Earth occurred 12,900 years ago at the onset of an unusual cold climatic period called the Younger Dryas. The researchers’ findings appear in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. _Astrobio_via_GlobalWarmingPolicyFoundation
Astrobio
The evidence is new, and supports an older theory that the Younger Dryas cold period was caused by a cosmic impact. It may also help explain what happened to the earliest North American cultures. More on this theory from back in 2007:
The Clovis people of North America, flourishing some 13,000 years ago, had a mastery of stone weaponry that stood them in good stead against the constant threat of large carnivores, such as American lions and giant short-faced bears. It's unlikely, however, that they thought death would come from the sky.

According to results presented by a team of 25 researchers this week at the American Geophysical Union meeting in Acapulco, Mexico, that's where the Clovis people's doom came from. Citing several lines of evidence, the team suggests that a wayward comet hurtled into Earth's atmosphere around 12,900 years ago, fractured into pieces and exploded in giant fireballs. Debris seems to have settled as far afield as Europe.

Jim Kennett, an oceanographer at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and one of the team's three principal investigators, claims immense wildfires scorched North America in the aftermath, killing large populations of mammals and bringing an abrupt end to the Clovis culture. "The entire continent was on fire," he says. _NewScientist
More from an earlier Al Fin article

More from an even earlier Donald Sensing article

The identity of "the first Americans" is shrouded in mystery. There is evidence that seafarers from Eastern Asia survived an early harrowing trans-Pacific voyage to settle on the Pacific Coast of North America. There is also evidence for early settlement of the South American Pacific coast from Polynesia. Evidence for early migration from Europe is also present, as noted here earlier.

But something seems to have disrupted the pattern of settlement for most of these immigrants. The pre-Clovis people disappeared mysteriously. The Clovis people disappeared mysteriously. The surviving descendants of the early people of North America do not have records of what happened to their ancestors, although some verbal accounts are suggestive of a cosmic catastrophe.

Scientists are slow to adopt new explanations for mysteries which their old theories do not admit to. But humans who are not attached to any particular theory, will often tug and pull at the threads of a mystery until it reveals itself.

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