when the Europeans arrived – Debris from an exploding star (a supernova) wiped out mostof the large animals (including humans) living in North America around 13,000 years ago. This is one reason why the continent was so empty, despite being so verdant, when the Europeans arrived. If this hadn’t happened, they would have had to make many more concessions to the Indian tribes living here and the history of the US might have been very different.

Abundant tiny particles of diamond dust exist in sediments dating to 12,900 years ago at six North American sites, adding strong evidence for Earth’s impact with a rare swarm of carbon-and-water-rich comets. These nanodiamonds, which are produced under high-temperature, high-pressure conditions created by cosmic impacts and have been found in meteorites, are concentrated in similarly aged sediments at Murray Springs, Ariz., Bull Creek, Okla., Gainey, Mich., and Topper, S.C., as well as Lake Hind, Manitoba, and Chobot, Alberta, in Canada.

A 26-member team from 16 institutions thinks that a cosmic impact event, possibly by multiple airbursts of comets, set off a 1,300-year-long cold spell that led to the extinction of a large range of animals, including mammoths, across North America.

Art credit: freeimages.co.uk

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