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Asteroid Impact, One-Third the Size of the One That Killed Dinosaurs, Wiped Out Ancient Native American Civilization

Mar 15, 2017 11:05 AM EDT

Asteroid impact might have obliterated not just the dinosaurs but an ancient native American civilization, too. This is based on a new study conducted by researchers from the University of South Carolina.

The Clovis people, a Native American civilization from the prehistoric era that existed from 13,200 to 12,900 years ago. The civilization was wiped out during the end of the last Ice Age together with a great number of species. The mystery of their demise is the focus of the study that claims to have an explanation as to what caused the extinction of the said species and the Clovis people.

Researchers studied 11 dig sites in North America to come up with their findings. The elevated levels of platinum led the researchers to their findings. Moore further added that platinum is rare in the Earth's crust, however asteroids and comets contain great amounts of the said element.

"The presence of elevated platinum in archaeological sites is a confirmation of data previously reported for the Younger-Dryas onset several years ago in a Greenland ice-core," Christopher Moore, the lead author of the study, said in an interview.

The fact that the Clovis culture and the 35 species including mammoths, mastodons, and saber-tooth tigers already survived ice age but became extinct during the "Younger-Dryas" period baffled scientists. The Native American civilization and the extinct species were able to survive the ice age, how come they, all of a sudden, died?

The study suggests that an asteroid impact may have been responsible for the mass species extinction in North America including the Clovis people. The extinction-level asteroid impact is about one-third the size of the one that killed the dinosaurs.

"Our data show that this anomaly is present in sediments from U.S. archaeological sites that date to the start of the Younger-Dryas event. It is continental in scale -- possibly global -- and it's consistent with the hypothesis that an extraterrestrial impact took place," Moore said in a statement.

The anomalous platinum levels at dig sites may not yet directly prove that an extinction-level asteroid impact occurred. However, it is a logical theory to work with since there are no fitting explanations to the platinum anomaly discovered in dig sites.

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