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Ancient Americans Weren’t Wiped out by a Comet?

Like the undead monsters in a Hollywood movie, some science theories just keep coming back to life. That’s been the case with solving the mystery surrounding the sudden disappearance 13,000 years ago of the Clovis – a Paleo-Indian North American culture.  A popular theory keeps getting resurrected which fingers a comet impact in the Great Lakes region as the culprit .

The resulting air-burst from the collision would have plunged North American continent into a snap deep freeze and glacial period- which would have spelled doom for the Clovis, says the theory.

But now, researchers from over a dozen institutions across Europe and the U.S. hope they have finally shot this theory down for good.

“The theory has reached zombie status,” said co-author of the study, Andrew Scott from Royal Holloway,University of London in a press release. “Whenever we are able to show flaws and think it is dead, it reappears with new, equally unsatisfactory, arguments.”

The Clovis was a culture known for advanced stone tools, and  evidence has long suggested that they appeared to suddenly vanish off the face of the Earth . This led to the hypothesis that the entire society may have met their demise due to some sort of a major catastrophic event. But according to the new study, it looks like it wasn’t any cosmic collision.

“There’s no plausible mechanism to get air-bursts over an entire continent,” said lead author Mark Boslough, a physicist at the Sandia National Laboratories in NewMexico in a statement. “For this and other reasons, we conclude that the impact hypothesis is, unfortunately, bogus.”

The researchers rebuttal is based on the lack of both an appropriately sized impact crater and shocked material in sediments. Also they contend that samples presented in support of the impact hypothesis were contaminated with modern material.

“Hopefully new versions of the theory will be more carefully examined before they are published”,  added Scott.

Instead of disappearing the researchers believe the Clovis simply made a natural shift towards becoming another culture known as the Folsoms. Further research will need to be done however to pin down the exact reasons for the disappearance of the Clovis.

“Just because a culture changed from Clovis to Folsom spear points didn’t mean their civilization collapsed,” added Boslough. “They probably just used another technology. It’s like saying the phonograph culture collapsed and was replaced by the iPod culture.”

The comet study was published in the December 2012 American Geophysical Union monograph.


  1. Fall of a Thousand Suns
    May 9, 2013, 2:25 pm

    There have been several impacts in recent history. Do people think SL-9 hitting Jupiter in 1994 and Comet Siding Spring passing incredibly close to Mars in 2014 are isolated events meant for other planets – but not Earth?

    There’s only one confirmed impact by EDEIS in the ocean – even though it cover roughly 70% of the planet. Using the logic of the nay-sayers, does the lack of craters in the ocean also mean that nothing every hit the ocean? Earth has a pretty good make-up artist. We don’t have to look far to see what a lack of make-up means. The Moon is pockmarked with hundreds of thousands of craters.

    In 13,000 BCE, A two-mile thick ice sheet covered much of Canada and crept into the US. I’m pretty sure that could absorb some of the fragments. Others airburst. How do these nay-sayers explain the black mat layers, nanodiamonds, and trillions of iron spherules embedded in flint around 13,000 BCE?

    For more on this subject visit

  2. Drew Stroyer
    February 8, 2013, 10:08 am

    Wow….some people are seriously far too passionate about grammar and the difference between BC and BCE (which mean the exact same thing). Interesting article though, thanks for the morning read!

  3. V-man
    February 6, 2013, 12:14 pm

    This goes back to the extinction of the dinosaurs, they all died, but somehow every other species in the world lived on, it couldn’t have been a meteor for that, either

  4. Puru Singh
    Assam, India
    February 4, 2013, 11:51 pm

    Deliberations. Lets have some entertainment here.

  5. kartik aher
    February 4, 2013, 10:34 pm

    i dont belive it

  6. Lucas Prater
    February 4, 2013, 4:33 pm

    Andrew, cool story but Jesus H. Christ, fourth sentence, second “paragraph,” never use “would of.” “Would of” doesn’t exist in the English language. The wording you were looking for was “would have.” Please proof read or have someone proof read your work before it’s published for everyone on the Internet to read.

  7. Skeptic
    February 4, 2013, 1:07 pm

    BCE. C’mon people. If it’s a scientific study, the appropriate terminology is BCE (before the common era).