David J. Meltzer with the Department of Anthropology at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas and colleagues from the University of Arizona reported a direct evaluation of the sites that are proposed proof of the Younger Dryas catastrophe in the May 12, 2014, edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The research may settle the century long argument about what caused the Younger Dryas event that devastated animal and human populations. The “known” evidence has been found to be inconclusive or erroneous in this new study.
The Younger Dryas event occurred 12,800 years ago. The prevailing theory is that an asteroid impact produced climatic changes that made the atmosphere in a large part of the Earth uninhabitable by most animal and human life. This asteroid impact has been considered to be the cause of a known reduction in the number of species of animal life 12,800 years ago as demonstrated in the geological record.
The researchers inspected the 29 known or presumed Younger Dryas impact sites in North America, South America, Europe, and the Middle East. The majority of the impact sites show flawed interpretation of the chronology and dating of the sites. Thirty-three percent of the presumed Younger Dryas impact sites actually date to centuries before or after the presumed impact date. Only three of the presumed Younger Dryas impact sites fall within the window of the accepted time frame of the asteroid impact. Carbon dating was used because carbon dating is reliable in this time period.
The researchers replicated the dating methods used in the original analysis of each site. The scientists also searched for chemical and physical evidence of asteroid impact in the presumed Younger Dryas sites. No chemical evidence from the known Younger Dryas sites or sites close to the supposed impact sites substantiated an asteroid impact as the cause of the Younger Dryas extinction.