Scientists have found another piece of evidence that proves a massive asteroid or comet likely hit the Earth during the Pleistocene era.
This is the same phenomenon that likely triggered the extinction of numerous animal species, and also perturbed human populations all over the world. Together with locations in Western Europe, Greenland, North and South America, and the Middle East, southern Africa can be added to the list of places where researchers have unearthed proof of a disastrous occurrence that took place approximately 12,800 years ago.
A new study accepted by the science journal Palaeontologia Africana depicts the existence of an exorbitant amount of platinum in sedimentary elements unearthed from a site in South Africa. The findings date back to the period mentioned above.
Some Discoveries Line Up – Others Don’t
According to the research team, led by Francis Thackeray from the Evolutionary Studies Institute at the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa, meteorites contain platinum, and a collision with a large enough and shattering object would have dispersed platinum all over the Earth.
This discovery is the first to be found on the continent, and it is a significant piece of evidence that supports the Younger Dryas Impact Hypothesis. This theory says that either a comet or asteroid hit the Earth sometime in the Pleistocene age, causing an impact winter that made temperatures plunge all over the planet. The correlated loss of plant life conducted to the extinction of numerous large animals, and also disrupted the human populations.
Thackeray, together with co-authors Philip Pieterse from the University of Johannesburg and Louis Scott from the University of the Free State, unearthed the platinum spike in ancient charcoal deposits at the Wonderkrater site in South Africa’s Limpopo Province.
The new research also details the finding of ancient pollen at Wonderkrater that were also estimated to date back to the Young Dryas era. Chemical analysis of this pollen suggests temperature declines, which also matches a similar cooling time interval in the Northern Hemisphere.
We should note that the Younger Dryas Impact Hypothesis is a hugely controversial theory, considering the lack of evidence. Scientists have explained that an age discrepancy persists between various sites where suggested markers have been discovered. Other evidence, such as magnetic microspherules, shocked quartz, and other minerals, are vague in nature and could be interpreted in different ways.
Therefore, there is no foolproof confirmation that our planet got hit back then, but the likeliness continues to captivate the minds of those fascinated with the theory.