Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Could A Prehistoric Comet Collision Have Caused Climate Change?

Almost 13,000 years ago, the planet went through an abrupt cooldown, eradicating about 35 species of mammals in the process, including woolly mammoths and prehistoric North Americans known for their groundbreaking Clovis culture.

Overhunting and sudden climate change have been among the various theories explaining the extinctions.

But now, according to a recent report in Scientific American, tiny diamonds called nanodiamonds that have been found across six North American sites suggest that a massive comet explosion may have been the culprit, setting off a 1,300-year cooling period across the northern latitudes known as the "Big Freeze" or Younger Dryas, named for an alpine flower that managed to survive during the icy period.

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photo: Dr. Neil Fox, University of Bristol

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