New Study finds that evidence does not support the theory of the “Clovis Comet” that supposedly sparked rapid climate change at the end of the last Ice age!
I know, I know, you were totally sold on the whole “Mega-comet killed the mega-fauna” idea (feel free to sing that to the tune of “Video killed the radio star”). BUT, it looks like all of you comet fanatics can put your smoking guns in your holsters for now.
Archaeologist David Meltzer, of Southern Methodist University, has a new study out in which he insists that none of the sites purported to show the impact of a comet in North America at the end of the last ice age can be dated to the proper time period. Earlier studies like this one claimed that spherules containing extraterrestrial sediments, deposited as the result of an impact event, could be dated to around the Younger Dryas boundary (~12,900 years ago). In addition to really sucking for real estate rates in the area, it was believed that this comet also triggered a cold snap that lasted for about 1,000 years and kind of killed off many of the larger mammals living in North America at the time so… you know, no big deal.
This also had a dramatic impact (ha! see what I did there?) on the peoples of said continent, collectively known as the Clovis culture. Whatever the driving force behind the Younger Dryas period was, it probably prompted a series of cultural adaptations resulting in the differentiation of technologies and lifeways from earlier Clovis traditions. Changes in lithic technology, in particular, were of interest in Meltzer’s research. A specialist in Clovis culture, he was looking to see if he could find a link between extraterrestrial material deposits, the Younger Dryas boundary, and Clovis sites (and I know what you’re thinking folks, don’t listen to the crazy-haired Greek, whatever he says it was NOT ALIENS!). Of the 29 sites commonly cited to provide evidence of a Younger Dryas comet-event, Meltzer claims only three fall within a reasonable age range. Others that used the presence of Clovis artifacts to corroborate the strata with the correct period appear to lack stratigraphic integrity or rely on misleading diagnostics. He continued to deflate the prior studies’ findings as unsupported or unreplicable.
Well, looks like the “Clovis comet” wasn’t as much of slam dunk as some might have thought. Don’t despair though readers! There are other theories like massive glacial melting to blame… huh, in context with the recent news on Greenland that seems rather more worrisome than a little comet doesn’t it? Great, just what this country needs, thanks Obama!
Original SMU release found here! Artwork © Neily Trappman Studio