The American comet

65 million years ago, it was probably a meteorite that wiped out the dinosaurs which had flourished on earth for 250 million years.  To put this in perspective, the Homo species has been around for about two million years, and Homo sapiens – which is us – appeared in Africa less than a quarter of a million years ago.

Now scientists have found evidence that a comet landed in America 13,000 years ago.   It probably explains the disappearance of the first settlers in North America and huge creatures like the woolly mammoth, the American lion, and the American camel.  I didn’t know America ever had lions and camels, but we did.

The settlers are called the Clovis people.  Until now, archaeologists were not sure why they disappeared, and some thought perhaps they weren’t even ever in America.  The evidence now suggests that they had come over from by boats from France via Alaska or across a land bridge from Siberia.  They did not die out because they had hunted all the megafauna (large animals) to extinction and then themselves succumbed to the increasing cold.  Instead, vegetation and animals were wiped out by a firey inferno created by a landing from outer space.  People lost their food source.

A layer of tiny nano-diamonds along with iridium and a layer of soot and charred foliage can only be explained as a result of an extraterrestrial visitor arriving with some force.

Could it happen again?  Unfortunately, it could.  In fact, it almost certainly will.  Because it has.

Several serious meteorites have landed in Siberia recently.  The meteorite in 2003 would have wiped out London or New York if it had been a little further south.


About Terry Sissons

Terry Sissons is the author of The Big Bang to Now: All of Time in Six Chunks, and this blog is a dialogue about the universe and what’s happened in the last 13 billions years.
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