Space Strike Didn’t Kill Mammoths?

Posted by: Loren Coleman on September 2nd, 2010

The new extreme skeptical point of view that Mammoth-killing space blast ‘off the hook’ is told by Jonathan Amos Science correspondent, in an article in the BBC News.

The theory that the great beasts living in North America 13,000 years ago were killed off by a space impact can now be discounted, a new study claims.
Mammoths, giant bears, big cats and the like disappeared rapidly from the fossil record, and a comet or asteroid strike was seen as a possible culprit.
But tiny diamonds said to have been created in the collision have been misinterpreted, a US-UK team says.
Without these diamonds, the theory falls, the group tells PNAS journal.
“This was really the last pillar for this theory and I think it’s time now
everyone moved on,” said co-author Professor Andrew Scott, from Royal Holloway, University of London, UK, told BBC News.


“We looked for these diamonds and we couldn’t find them,” said Professor Scott.
“But not only that, [the proponents of the theory] have misinterpreted what are really just aggregations of carbon.
“There were frequent low-temperature fires all through this period – this is no big deal. And what happens is that the carbon in molecules gets re-ordered and this happens in very small domains, less than micron-sized areas.
“It’s not a high-temperature phenomenon; it happens at low temperatures.
Obviously, what they’ve done is take that material and identified these domains as diamonds when they’re not.”

Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

9 Responses to “Space Strike Didn’t Kill Mammoths?”

  1. Harold responds:

    In “Under a Green Sky” Peter Ward discussed how in the post-Alvarez world, asteroid strikes became the most popular hypothesis for every mass extinction, even though there is fairly solid evidence for an asteroid as the culprit in only the Cretaceous–Tertiary extinction event. So when I first read about the proposed asteroid strike hypothesis for this recent extinction in a cover story in one of my Astronomy magazines, I was immediately skeptical. Little by little the editors have retracted every claim made in this article, until it looks like the evidence has all blown away.

    So what did wipe them out? There are lots of other suggestions – climate change (an enemy of highly cold-climate adapted animals) and overhunting among them. Seems like hunting animals to extinction may be a running theme with humans.

  2. krakatoa responds:

    Seems like hunting animals to extinction may be a running theme with humans…

    … and any other Apex predator. The difference being we humans have the intellect to quickly adapt to other food-supplies, and to recognize where we went wrong before and implement changes for sustainability.

    Agree that over-hunting probably played a large role (so much for the noble-savage fantasy), although I imagine disease could have been involved.

    My understanding is that the hunting technique used (10000 BC’s fantasies notwithstanding) was to stampede a herd of mammoths to cliffs and let gravity do its thing. So a tribe that may only have been able to process one or a few mammoths would potentially kill dozens or more in a single hunt.

    Amazing how far we humans have come, wouldn’t you say?

  3. dogu4 responds:

    I just read the paper. It doesn’t look like these researchers acquired and sorted their samples the same way as the orignial researchers did. They’re calling it sloppy testing.
    For example: at the Murray Springs site, the orignal researchers tested the sediments and they are saying that this recent analysis was done on material taken from actual lumps of charcoal, which the original researchers never did.

  4. Paul78 responds:

    I’m an archaeology student and the general consensus in prehistoric archaeology is that climate change was the culprit for the mammal extinction, as the climate warmed grasslands shrank and were replaced by trees and this lack of their habitat killed them off and rather than hunting being the culprit it is now only believed not to have helped in their decline. The earth strike thing has never held much weight.

    As for the Mammoths off the cliff activity, relatively it is not the frequent and may have been a Neanderthal practice. Neanderthals see due to upper arm limitation could only hunt at close range.

  5. Ragnar responds:


    I too wonder just how often entire herds of anything were run off cliffs, particularly in the Great Plains.

  6. Mibs responds:

    I think climate played the bigger role in the relative extinction of the great beasts from the giant sloth, mammoth, horse, bison, and their respective apex predators. Once the grass became unavailable, the entire eco-system collapsed.

    The theory that the often mislabeled paleo-indians forced mass extinction via cliff jumping rings of a more prejudiced view when we really very limited evidence to suggest how they lived and hunted in the first place. Common sense shows that mammoths, just like modern elephants, were likely more dangerous to humans than vice versa, and I can’t imagine humans engaging in herding matches of such a colossal creature with mere spears and men.

  7. Paul78 responds:

    Ragnar, There are only a handful of cases with evidence of them being purposefully ran off cliffs, it is just that the media grabs a hold of it and runs with it, especially in documentaries; generally because it looks good.

    Mibs, For Neanderthals it was a close quarters hunt. As I mentioned above Neanderthals had an upper arm limit that meant they could not through a spear properly, not even with a thrower, combined with that Neanderthal skeletons have frequent healed and fatal injuries that confirm this type of hunting. In fact in research the modern equivalent in a person consistent with these injuries was a rodeo rider.

  8. wuffing responds:

    … The difference being we humans have the intellect to … recognize where we went wrong before and implement changes for sustainability.krakatoa
    September 2nd, 2010 at 11:52 am

    It’s a pity that those with the intellect lack the power, and those with the power lack the intellect. I fear that sustainability isn’t sustainable.

  9. MattBille responds:

    I never liked the overhunting theory. Africans with hunting technology similar to Native Americans didn’t wipe out their continent’s modern megafauna. Native Americans did use the cliff technique in some areas for bison, without making a dent in their numbers.

Sorry. Comments have been closed.

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