Mammoth Tusk With Evidence of Meteorite Impacts

This is very weird. Researchers at the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union announced the discovery:

The mammoth and bison remains all display small (about 2-3mm in size) perforations.
Raised, burnt surface rings trace the point of entry of high-velocity projectiles; and the punctures are on only one side, consistent with a blast coming from a single direction.
Viewed under an electron microscope, the embedded fragments appear to have exploded inside the tusk and bone, say the researchers. Shards have cut little channels.
The sunken pieces are also magnetic, and tests show them to have a high iron-nickel content, but to be depleted in titanium.
The ratios of different types of atoms in the fragments meant it was most unlikely they had originated on Earth, the team told the AGU meeting.

The BBC article goes on to point out that:

The intriguing question is how space impacts might fit into the extinction story of the ice age beasts. The mammoth, their elephant cousins the mastodon, sabre-toothed tigers, some bears, and many other creatures all disappeared rapidly from the palaeo-record about 10,000 years ago.
Their loss has traditionally been put down to either climate change and/or the efficient hunting technologies adopted by migrating humans.
Could impacts have also weakened these populations?

Maybe it also affected Clovis peoples? That seems to be the gist of this session anybody have any further details?

8 Responses

  1. There is a fairly sizable group that got together at the AGU meeting this spring and held a session on the idea that a meteor impact on the Lauretian Ice Sheet caused the Younger Dryas cooling event, the end of Clovis culture, the extinction of the mammoth, the Carolina Bays, and a host of other phenomena at around that time. Parts of the idea have been around since the early nineties. It’s just recently, however, that they have had any actual evidence of a meteor strike to go with the general theory. I think most of the scientists only sign on for one part or another of the theory closest related to their specialty and only a few support the full scenario.
    I’ll try to gather some names and links and send them to you later tonight.

  2. Meanwhile, here’s something I blogged about the AGU press release.

  3. Thanks! I figured you would have heard something about it.

  4. There’s a National Geographic documentary on this called “Mammoth Mystery”; next airing is this Wednesday evening (12/12). I’ve seen it; some of the evidence is intriguing, other “evidence” is highly suspect.

  5. What’s oddest about this is that they’re linking damage in 35,000 year-old tusks to an theorised impact 12,000 years ago. A bit of a stretch….

  6. What’s oddest about this is that they’re linking damage in 35,000 year-old tusks to an theorised impact 12,000 years ago. A bit of a stretch….
    Posted by: Chris Rowan | December 12, 2007 10:38 AM
    I agree with this but I would think this sort of thing could happen multiple times historically, even today!
    Dave Briggs :~)

  7. Firestone hypothesizes a supernova with multiple shockwaves hitting the earth 41, 34, 16, and 13 thousand years ago. He has a lot of support for some kind of celestial event (like a meteor strike in Canada) at the most recent date. A group of over twenty scientists of various disciplines presented papers at the the American Geophysical Union conference in Acapulco last May. I’m not sure if any of that group have signed on for the whole supernova story.

  8. umm…maybe it was volcanic activity instead?

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