Massive Asteroid Hit Earth About 12,800 Years Ago, Disrupting Ancient Human Populations

A new study conducted in South Africa found more evidence that a massive asteroid hit Earth 12,800 years ago. The event might have caused the extinction of some animal species, while it also disrupted ancient human populations worldwide.

South Africa is now another place in the world where scientists found evidence of the massive asteroid impact that took place 12,800 years ago, during the Pleistocene. Until this new study, only North and South America, Greenland, Western Europe, and the Middle East held evidence of that catastrophic event.

The researchers, who published their work in the Palaeontologia Africana science journal, found large amounts of platinum in the sedentary material dating back to Pleistocene in a site in South Africa. As stated by the study’s leading author, Francis Thackeray, from the Evolutionary Studies Institute at the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa, asteroids contain platinum. A massive asteroid impact would have spread the material around the Earth.

Scientists Found More Evidence That A Massive Asteroid Impacted Earth During Pleistocene

Researchers showed that something caused the spike in platinum in South Africa, the only region on the continent that presents such a large amount of that metal. That might prove the Younger Dryas Impact Hypothesis, which states that a massive asteroid or comet hit Earth during Pleistocene. The event triggered a post-impact winter that caused global temperatures to drop.

“Our finding at least partially supports the highly controversial Younger Dryas Impact Hypothesis. We seriously need to explore the view that an asteroid impact somewhere on Earth may have caused climate change on a global scale, and contributed to some extent to the process of extinction of large animals at the end of the Pleistocene, after the last ice age,” explained Francis Thackeray.

Even more, scientists also found ancient pollen dating back to Pleistocene. After analyzing the samples, the researchers confirmed the decline in temperatures as the Younger Dryas Impact Hypothesis stated. However, Thackeray added that the massive asteroid impact “could have affected humans as a result of local changes in the environment and the availability of food resources, associated with sudden climate change.”