Archaeologists don’t know why the Clovis Culture and beasts such as the saber-toothed tiger, the Mammoth, and Mastodon suddenly disappeared. The Clovis people lived around 12.8 kya and a recent discovery might shed some light on their disappearance along with their furry friends. A study conducted by the University of South Carolina has found an abundance of platinum at 11 Clovis sites across the US. Platinum is an element associated with asteroids and comets and other space objects.
This study adds to a previous study by Harvard University researchers who found platinum in ice core samples from Greenland back in 2013. The SC researchers found an abundance of the element in sediment layers that coincide with the Younger Dryas period which was a period of extreme cooling beginning about 12.8 kya and lasting for 1400 years. This period saw the return of ice age conditions for that period and the cause of this is uncertain. What we do know is that it brought about the demise of the Clovis Culture and that there appears to have been a MASS EXTINCTION event in North America at the time.
Platinum is a rare element in the Earth’s crust but is rather common in asteroids and comets. The SC study basically confirms the Harvard-Greenland study of 2013. Researchers believe the event causing the Younger Dryas was continental or global. In other words, a comet or asteroid or pieces of one may have collided with the Earth and caused the “brief” return of ice age conditions. It is believed 35 species of ice age animals became extinct at the time and although some of these animals were on the decline prior to the dawn of the Younger Dryas, afterwards virtually none of them remained.
Iridium has also been found which is another element associated with comets and asteroids. The SC researchers believe the Earth was likely impacted by fragments of one of these celestial bodies perhaps measuring around 2/3 of a mile in diameter. No impact crater associated with this event has ever been found. These elements include being found at the TOPPER SITE which is one of the most pristine Clovis sites in North America. This site is located in South Carolina along the banks of the Savannah River in Allendale County.
The 11 Clovis sites that were studied where Platinum was found are:
Arlington Canyon, Santa Rosa Island, CA
Murray Springs in SE Arizona near Sierra Vista
Blackwater Draw, NM
Sheridan Cave, Ohio
Squires Ridge, NC
Barber Creek, NC.
Flamingo Bay, SC
John Bay, SC
Pen Point, SC
Topper Clovis Site, SC
The Younger Dryas period saw a sharp decline in temps over most of the Northern Hemisphere (12.9 to 11.7 kya). It is the most recent of several interruptions in the gradual warming associated with our current period known as the Holocene. We know the change was rather sudden, geologically speaking, as it took place over several decades. Drier conditions came about and the ice sheets began to advance. Another theory for the dawn of the Younger Dryas is that there was a weakening of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation which moves warm water from the equator towards the Arctic. It’s believe a huge influx of fresh cold water into the circulation that slowed it down. In Southern Hemisphere there was slight warming, in contrast. This slight warming was also seen in SE North America.
A comet or asteroid striking the Earth would likely cause major cooling as the atmosphere would become filled with dust and dim sunlight reaching the earth. But a slow down in ocean currents could cause the cooling too as we see in the “Mini Ice Age.” Perhaps it was a combination of both? Did the body slam into the North Atlantic and is the crater deep underwater? Whatever it was one thing is for certain and that is that something BIG interrupted the warming period after the last major glaciation and it has happened more than once but perhaps not on the scale of the Younger Dryas.