A team of South African scientists has discovered more evidence that 12,800 years ago a mass extinction occurred that was caused by an asteroid, according to a study published in the journal Palaeontologia Africana.
This catastrophic event, which they have called the impact of Younger Dryas, killed thousands of species by causing global climate change and seriously endangered humans in various parts of the world, according to scientists.
Scientists led by Professor Francis Thackeray of the Institute for Evolutionary Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, discovered evidence of a remarkable "platinum peak" at a site called Wonderkrater in Limpopo province, north of Pretoria. This trail is a signature that identifies these types of events.RELATED
The evidence was discovered in a core drilled in a rock deposit of about 12,800 years. It should be noted that meteorites are rich in platinum.
“Our finding supports at least partially the highly controversial Younger Dryas impact hypothesis. We have to seriously explore the idea that an impact of an asteroid somewhere on Earth may have caused global climate change and contributed to some extent to the process of extinction of large animals at the end of the Pleistocene, after the last age. of ice, ”Thackeray says in a statement.
The authors argue that many mammals became extinct in North America, South America and Europe at the time of Younger Dryas. In South Africa, some large animal species became extinct, not necessarily exactly 12,800 years ago, but near that period. This extinct megafauna includes a giant African buffalo, a large zebra and a very large wildebeest.
Human populations were also in serious danger from the impact of the asteroid. A sample of this is that in North America there is a dramatic interruption in the technology of stone tools of the Clovis. Meanwhile, archaeologists in South Africa have detected an almost simultaneous termination of the Robberg stone artifacts industry associated with people in some parts of the country.
“Without necessarily discussing a single causal factor on a global scale, we cautiously hint at the possibility that these technological changes, in North America and in the African subcontinent, at approximately the same time, have been indirectly associated with an asteroid impact with greater impact global consequences, ”says Thackeray.
"We cannot be sure, but a cosmic impact could have affected humans as a result of local changes in the environment and the availability of food resources, associated with sudden climate change," he added.
In addition, evidence of pollen was found showing that some 12 800 years ago there was a temporary cooling, both in the northern hemisphere and in the southern hemisphere. According to some scientists, this cooling in extended areas could at least be potentially associated with the global dispersion of atmospheric dust rich in platinum.
Scientists have also discovered a large 31 kilometer-diameter crater in northern Greenland beneath the Hiawatha glacier. "There is some evidence that supports the view that it could possibly have been the place where a large meteorite hit planet Earth 12,800 years ago," says Thackeray. "If this were the case, there must have been global consequences."
Thackeray's team believes that its discovery of a platinum peak about 12,800 years ago in Wonderkrater is only part of the strengthening vision that an asteroid or comet impact could have occurred at that time.