The Clovis people inhabited North America for millenia before their culture suddenly dissappeared some 12,800 years ago, confounding researchers.
But research findings that include a University of South Carolina team outlined in a new study noted the unusual presence of platinum at archaeological spots from that time. The study, released Thursday in Scientific Reports, builds on similar findings of platinum an element associated with cosmic objects like asteroids or comets found by Harvard University researchers in an ice-core from Greenland in 2013.
Researcher Chris Moore told South Carolina Radio Network that platinum has been found at some Clovis sites in South Carolina. “We’ve got multiple sites. One of the sites is called Flamingo Bay. Which is a Carolina Bay on the Savanna River in Aiken. We’ve been doing a lot of work there,” Moore said.
Moore said the excptionally high presence could indicate an extinction event for North America, raising the possibility that it came from an object like an asteroid colliding with the Earth.
He also said the platinum anomaly is similar to the well-documented finding of iridium, another element associated with cosmic objects that scientists have found in the rock layers dated 65 million years ago and often attribute to dinosaur extinction. That event is commonly known as Cretaceous-Tertiary or K-Pg by scientists.
The K-Pg dinosaur extinction was the result of a very large asteroid impact, while what’s considered the Younger-Dryas onset impact is likely the result of being hit by fragments of a much smaller sized comet or asteroid, according to Moore, possibly measuring up to two-thirds of a mile in diameter.
More said all of the sites have something in common. “All of them have the exact same platinum anomaly,” said Moore.