HUMANPAST.NET

Environment                  11,000 BC
Africa
Southwest Asia
Egypt
Indus Valley
China
Europe
South America
Mesoamerica
North America
Other


In General

 Worldwide, we know that the period of 14,000 to 13,000 years ago, which coincides with the peak of abundant monsoonal rains over India, was marked by violent oceanic flooding - in fact, the first of the three great episodes of global superfloods that dominated the meltdown of the Ice Age. The flooding was fed not merely by rain but by the cataclysmic synchronous collapse of large ice-masses on several different continents and by gigantic inundations of meltwater pouring down river systems into the oceans. (124)

What happened, at around 13,000 years ago, was that the long period of uninterrupted warming that the world had just passed through (and that had greatly intensified, according to some studies, between 15,000 years ago and 13,000 years ago) was instantly brought to a halt - all at once, everywhere - by a global cold event known to palaeo climatologists as the 'Younger Dryas' or 'Dryas III'. In many ways mysterious and unexplained, this was an almost unbelievably fast climatic reversion - from conditions that are calculated to have been warmer and wetter than today's 13,000 years ago, to conditions that were colder and drier than those at the Last Glacial Maximum, not much more than a thousand years later. From that moment, around 12,800 years ago, it was as though an enchantment of ice had gripped the earth. In many areas that had been approaching terminal meltdown full glacial conditions were restored with breathtaking rapidity and all the gains that had been made since the LGM were simply stripped away…(124)

A great, sudden extinction took place on the planet, perhaps as recently as 11,500 years ago (usually attributed to the end of that last ice age), in which hundreds of mammal and plant species disappeared from the face of the earth, driven into deep caverns and charred muck piles the world over. Modern science, with all its powers and prejudices, has been unable to adequately explain this event. (83) 

...the Russian scientist Immanuel Velikovsky's investigations of the Beresovka mammmoth found [it] frozen in Siberia around 1901 in a half-standing position with buttercups in its mouth. Obviously, for such flora to have been growing, the climate had changed very suddenly, but how could even an earth crust slippage have caused the temperature to drop so rapidly? We can picture the Arctic Circle as a circular piece of adhesive plaster, with the North Pole as its centre. Before 10,000 BC, that plaster apparently reached further down, so that its centre was in Hudson Bay and its southernmost edge was as far south as Ohio. As Rand had noticed, the western edge of the plaster did not extend to the west coast of Canada. Hapgood concluded: 'Thus we are able to say that warm conditions of the Arctic Archipelago of Canada persisted for the entire duration of the Wisconsin glaciation, from 40,000 years ago to the establishment of modern conditions.' Hapgood presented evidence to demonstrate, in the same way, that the North Pole moved from the Yukon district to the Greenland Sea about 80,000 years ago, then from the Greenland Sea to Hudson Bay about 50,000 years ago, and from Hudson Bay to its present position about 17,000 to 12,000 years ago. In other words, the most recent crustal movement began about 15,000 BC, and ended about 10,000 BC. Rand's new evidence concerned the fact that in Antarctica the ice was thickest where there was least snowfall, which seemed absurd, since snow turns into ice. Equally odd was the fact that the ice was thinnest in areas with the heaviest snowfall. The most obvious explanation was that the areas with the thickest ice had been within the Antarctic Circle thousands of years longer than the areas with the thinnest ice. In other words, Antarctica had slipped lower, and a part that had once been outside the Antarctic Circle was now located inside it. (123)

And let's not forget that the earth by this time - 8000 years ago - has already suffered the consequences of 7000 years of intense volcanism, 7000 years of rising sea-levels and sudden and unpredictable marine floods, 7000 years of continental shelves, land-bridges and islands vanishing beneath the waves, and 7000 years of spectacular climatic instability. Indeed, the palaeo-climatological record testifies to all of the following - and much more - between 15,000 and 8,000 years ago: cold oceans, high winds, mountains of dust in the atmosphere and wildly unpredictable temperature shifts. (124)

Romuald Schild of the Polish Academy of Sciences cites an abrupt warming that took place in the northern Atlantic at around 12,700 years ago, stopped and equally abruptly went into reverse 10,800 years ago - when there was a sudden 800-year plunge to almost full glacial temperatures - then turned again to another episode of abrupt warming about 10,000 years ago. Robert Schoch reports that the bulk of the first warming- 'approximately 27 degrees Farenheit, a massive increase' - occurred after 11,700 years ago: Remarkably, the ice-core data suggests that half of the temperature change, in the neighbourhood of 14 degrees Farenheit, occurred in less than 15 years centering around 9645 BC. That's a bigger temperature increase, and faster, than the scariest doomsday scenario about global warming in the twenty-first century. It also happens to coincide, almost exactly, with Plato's date of around 11,600 years ago for the sinking of Atlantis, when, the reader will recall, 'There were earthquakes and floods of extraordinary violence, and in a single dreadful day and night ... the island of Atlantis was ... swallowed up by the sea and vanished.' (124)

During the same 10,000-year epoch in which the ice melted and global sea-level rose by 120 metres - roughly from 17,000 down to 7000 years ago - our planet also experienced dramatically increased volcanism, dramatically increased frequency and magnitude of earthquakes, and a dramatically unstable climate that seesawed rapidly and unpredictably between extremes. (124)

Nanosized diamonds found just a few meters below the surface of Santa Rosa Island off the coast of Santa Barbara provide strong evidence of a cosmic impact event in North America approximately 12,900 years ago, according to a new study by scientists. Their hypothesis holds that fragments of a comet struck across North America at that time. The research was led by James Kennett, professor emeritus at UC Santa Barbara, and Douglas J. Kennett, first author, of the University of Oregon. The two are a father-son team. They were joined by 15 other researchers. "The pygmy mammoth, the tiny island version of the North American mammoth, died off at this time," said James Kennett. "Since it coincides with this event, we suggest it is related." He explained that this site, with its layer containing hexagonal diamonds, is also associated with other types of diamonds and with dramatic environmental changes and wildfires. They are part of a sedimentary layer known as the Younger Dryas Boundary. "There was a major event 12,900 years ago," said James Kennett. "It is hard to explain this assemblage of materials without a cosmic impact event and associated extensive wildfires. This hypothesis fits with the abrupt climatic cooling as recorded in ocean-drilled sediments beneath the Santa Barbara Channel. The cooling resulted when dust from the high-pressure, high-temperature, multiple impacts was lofted into the atmosphere, causing a dramatic drop in solar radiation." The tiny diamonds were buried below four meters of sediment and they correspond with the disappearance of the Clovis culture -- the first well-established and distributed North American peoples. An estimated 35 types of mammals and 19 types of birds also became extinct in North America about this time. "The type of diamond we have found is a shock-synthesized mineral defined by its hexagonal crystalline structure," said Douglas Kennett, associate professor of anthropology at the University of Oregon. "It forms under very high temperatures and pressures consistent with a cosmic impact. These diamonds have only been found thus far in meteorites and impact craters on earth, and appear to be the strongest indicator yet of a significant cosmic impact [during Clovis]." The diamonds were found in association with soot, which forms in extremely hot fires, and they suggest associated regional wildfires, based on nearby environmental records. Such soot and diamonds are rare in the geological record. They were found in sediment dating to massive asteroid impacts 65 million years ago in a layer widely known as the K-T Boundary, known to be associated with the extinction of dinosaurs and many other types of organisms. (136)

Africa

The climatic record is, however, unequivocal: for most of the time between around 14 kya and 5 kya the Sahara experienced a monsoonal climate. The region had considerably greater rainfall than now and much of the land had permanent vegetation. (145)

Southwest Asia

 Between 13,000 BC and 4000 BC sea levels rose significantly as ice sheets melted. Meteorologists suggest that there was increased rainfall in the Near East in this era and botanists point to increased plant life. (68)

By 14,000 yr BP the Hormuz Strait has opened up as a narrow waterway and the flooding of the lowlands to the west begins, first with the flooding of the Eastern Basin by marine water soon after 13,000 BP. Marine influence is first experienced in the Central Basin before about 12,500 BP (124)

                                                                                                         MOST RECENT DATE
COMMON NAME                              GENUS                                   BEFORE PRESENT

CHEETAH                                           Acinonyx                                           17,000
PECCARY                                           Platygonus                                         13,000
SHORT-FACED BEAR                       Arctodus                                            12,600
PRONGHORN                                    Stockoceros                                       11,300
WOODLAND MUSK OX                  Symbos                                               11,100
MAMMOTH                                       Mammuthus                                         10,500
MASTODON                                      Mammut                                              10,400
LION                                                   Panthera                                              10,400
HORSE                                                Equus                                                  10,400
CAMEL                                               Camelops                                            10,300
STAG-MOOSE                                   Cervalces                                             10,200
GIANT BEAVER                                 Castoroides                                          10,200
GIANT GROUND SLOTH                  Glossotherium                                        9,800
SABERTOOTH                                    Smilodon                                               9,400
TAPIR                                                   Tapirus                                                  9,400
                                   
In this list, as in more complete ones, the apparent extinction dates cluster between 11,000 and 9,500 years ago. This was the time that the climate, local weather, and ecosystems of North America were undergoing a spectacularly rapid upheaval. It is also the time when other creatures that could also be called charismatic megafauna thrived - the hunters of the Clovis culture and the ensuing Folsom culture. (130)

The steadily rising sea levels might have had a more profound effect on coastal communities where large areas were inundated in fits and starts. For example, this could have happened in the Persian Gulf. This enclosed sea goes no deeper than 100 m, and much of the seabed is only about 40 m below the present-day surface. When sea levels were 120 m lower the gulf would have been dry land 20 kya, and the ancestral river system of the Tigris and Euphrates flowed through the deepest part of the gulf, a canyon cut by the river waters to the Indian Ocean. The postglacial rise in sea level inundated the floor of the gulf between 15 and 6 kya. The sea advanced more than 1000 km, forcing any people living there to abandon their settlements. (145)

The climatic record is, however, unequivocal: for most of the time between around 14 kya and 5 kya the Sahara experienced a monsoonal climate. The region had considerably greater rainfall than now and much of the land had permanent vegetation. (145)

In the New World...more than seventy genera of large mammals became extinct between 15,000 BC and 8000 BC, including all North American members of seven families, and one complete order, the Proboscidea. These staggering losses, involving the violent obliteration of more than forty million animals, were not spread out evenly over the whole period; on the contrary, the vast majority of the extinctions occurred in just two thousand years, between 11,000 BC and 9000 BC. To put this in perspective, during the previous 300,000 years only about twenty genera had disappeared. (152)

Egypt

 The climatic record is, however, unequivocal: for most of the time between around 14 kya and 5 kya the Sahara experienced a monsoonal climate. The region had considerably greater rainfall than now and much of the land had permanent vegetation. (145)

Indus Valley

 An epoch of spectacular geological turmoil occurred at the end of the last Ice Age, with the most dramatic effects registered in a series of cataclysmic floods that took place at intervals between roughly 15,000 and 7000 years ago. Is it an accident that this same 8000-year period has been pinpointed by archaeologists as the very one in which our supposedly primitive forefathers made the transition (in different places at somewhat different times) from their age-old hunter-gatherer lifestyle to settled agriculture? Or could there be more to 'the food-producing revolution' than meets the eye? After all, most scientists already recognize a causative connection between the end of the Ice Age and the supposed beginning of farming - indeed an unproven hypothesis that rapid climate changes forced hunter-gatherers to invent agriculture presently serves as pretty much the sum of conventional wisdom on this subject. But there is another possibility. Nobody seems to have noticed that in the general vicinity of each of the places in the world where the food-producing revolution is supposed to have begun between 15,000 and 7000 years ago there is also a large area of land that was submerged by the post-glacial floods between 15,000 and 7000 years ago: We have seen that this is true for India, one of the world's ancient agricultural 'hearths', which lost more than a million square kilometres in the south and the west and, most conspicuously in the north-west, at the end of the Ice Age. (124)

 India's coastlines in Reinal map of AD 1510 (above)

India's coastlines in 11,500 BCm (Below)

1. Today this is the mouth of the Indus river, which is a delta. But on both Reinal's and Milne's maps, it is marked by a wide gulf.
2. A large bulge that in both Reinal's and Milne's maps replaces the Kathiawar peninsula that exists today.
3. An island (or island-group) which is depicted on both maps but which does not exist today.
4. A gulf which on both maps is much smaller than the Gulf of Cambay that exists today.
5. A large island (or island-group) which is depicted on both maps but which does not exist today.
6. An island at the same latitude as the northernmost Lakshadweep island (approximately 12 degrees north) is shown on both Reinal's and Milne's maps. No island exists there today.
7. The Lakshadweep islands, which exist today but which are enlarged in both Reinal's and Milne's maps.
8. The tip of the sub-continent. Both maps show the tip of the sub-continent somewhat like a bay, wide but not deep, facing south-west towards the northern Maldives - very different from the south-east-facing tip that exists today.
9. A tiny island which is depicted on both Reinal's and Milne's maps next to the southern tip of the sub-continent. No island exists there today.
10. The Maldive islands, which exist today but which are enlarged in both Reinal's and Milne's maps.

China

 

Europe

Between about 30,000 and 10,000 years ago, European climates began a long cooling trend with some periods of extreme cold, but for most of the period the summers were cool and the winters relatively mild. The rich European grasslands and mixed forest habitats supported great numbers of herbivores, including reindeer, deer, bison, wild ox, ibex, woolly rhinoceros, and mammoths. France seems to have been densely occupied during this period, particularly near the confluence of the Dordogne and Vezere rivers. This lovely part of the world is a well-watered, heavily forested limestone formation, honeycombed with caves and rock shelters, which offered excellent places to live.(24)

One of the most amply documented Upper Paleolithic cultures in eastern Europe is the Kostenski-Bershevo culture centered in the Don River Valley, about 470 kilometers southeast of Moscow. About 25,000 to 11,000 years ago, the Kostenski-Bershevo area was an open grassland environment, with no rock shelters, caves, or other natural habitations, and with very little wood available for fires. People here left a variety of archeological sites.(24)

At peak moments of the meltdown any hypothetical civilizations living around the edges of partially enclosed seas that served as drainage areas for the great ice-sheets could have suffered disproportionately large and rapid change in sea-level. In a sophisticated and original argument, LaViolette draws particular attention to the Mediterranean: Glacial meltwater [from the nearby European ice-sheets] would have entered the Mediterranean much more rapidly than it could escape through the Straits of Gibraltar, and, as a result, the temporary rise in Mediterranean sea-level would have been much greater than in the surrounding oceans ... [Such meltwater surges] could have temporarily raised the Mediterranean by some 60 meters, flooding all coast civilizations. (124)

…there is no dispute from any authority that during the extremely cold and arid periods that occurred several times between 17,000 and 10,000 years ago: man and animals could migrate from the Italian peninsula, by land, to the warmer climates of the Siculo-Maltese district. Herds of red deer left northern latitudes and settled in all parts of present-day Sicily, the present-day Egadi islands of Favignana and Levanzo, and the Maltese archipelago, the latter site being the warmest of the Siculo-Maltese district during the Pleistocene. (124)

This indicates that mastodons (not arctic animals) were present, probably in large numbers, in the forests of the United States and Canada as early as 12,000 years ago. Deglaciation was probably at least 2,000 years earlier. (132)

In 1931 a trawler working in the southern North Sea dredged up a lump of peat containing an exquisitely crafted spearhead made from a deer's antler. Dated as being nearly 14 kyr old, this artefact was dramatic evidence of how early humans exploited the broad expanses of land that had been exposed during the last ice age, and were only reclaimed by the sea some 7 kya. When this spearhead was buried, dense oak forests had yet to spread into the region, known to archaeologists as 'Doggerland', where now the sea is over 30m deep. This famous find emphasises that the rise in sea level between about 15 and 5 kya covered up large areas of habitable land that had been exploited by humans and made movement around the continental margins easier. (145)

...sometime during the eleventh millennium BC in the northern parts of Siberia literally thousands of animals, mammoths in particular, simply froze to death. Many were found still standing upright with grass in their mouths and stomachs, indicating that they had been eating at the moment when their fate was sealed. Some of those studied revealed that their frozen skin still contained red blood corpuscles, hinting strongly at the fact that death had been caused through suffocation, either by water or by gases. It is to be remembered that, contrary to popular belief, woolly mammoths did not live in arctic conditions. They inhabited more temperate zones where grasslands and wet boggy forests prevailed. Hibben estimated that over 40 million animals had died in the continent of America alone, while many species - such as giant beaver and sloths, mammoths, mastodons, sabre-tooth cats and woolly rhinoceroses - had become extinct almost overnight. For him: "The Pleistocene period ended in death. This is no ordinary extinction of a vague geological period which fizzled to an uncertain end. This death was catastrophic and all-inclusive . .. The large animals that had given their name to the period became extinct. Their death marked the end of an era." (149)

The northern regions of Alaska and Siberia appear to have been the worst hit by the murderous upheavals between 13,000 and 11,000 years ago. In a great swathe of death around the edge of the Arctic Circle the remains of uncountable numbers oflarge animals have been found - including many carcases with the flesh still intact, and astonishing quantities of perfectly preserved mammoth tusks. The Alaskan muck in which the remains are embedded is like a fine, dark- grey sand. Frozen solid within this mass, in the words of Professor Hibben of the University of New Mexico: lie the twisted parts of animals and trees intermingled with lenses of ice and layers of peat and mosses...Bison, horses, wolves, bears, lions...Whole herds of animals were apparently killed together, overcome by some common power...Such piles of bodies of animals or men simply do not occur by any ordinary natural means...' At various levels stone artefacts have been found 'frozen in situ at great depths, and in association with Ice Age fauna, which confirms that men were contemporary with extinct animals in Alaska'. (152)

Researchers have confirmed that of the thirty-four animal species living in Siberia prior to the catastrophes of the eleventh millennium BC - including Ossip's mammoth, giant deer, cave hyena and cave lions - no less than twenty-eight were adapted only to temperate conditions.' In this context, one of the most puzzling aspects of the extinctions, which runs quite contrary to what today's geographical and climatic conditions lead us to expect, is that the farther north one goes, the more the mammoth and other remains increase in number. Indeed some of the New Siberian Islands, well within the Arctic Circle, were described by the explorers who first discovered them as being made up almost entirely of mammoth bones and tusks. The only logical conclusion, as the nineteenth-century French zoologist Georges Cuvier put it, is that 'this eternal frost did not previously exist in those parts in which the animals were frozen, for they could not have survived in such a temperature. The same instant that these creatures were bereft of life, the country which they inhabited became frozen. In his survey of the New Siberian Islands, the Arctic explorer Baron Eduard von Toll found the remains 'of a sabretooth tiger, and a fruit tree that had been 90 feet tall when it was standing. The tree was well preserved in the permafrost, with its roots and seeds. Green leaves and ripe fruit still clung to its branches...At the present time the only representative of tree vegetation on the islands is a willow that grows one inch high'. ...at some point between 12-13,000 years ago a destroying frost descended with horrifying speed upon Siberia and has never relaxed its grip. (152)

11,000 BC Orkney separated from Scotland by rising sea level (160)

South America

Ironically, the site with perhaps the best claim to a pre-12,000 BP date date in the Americas is among the farthest south, Monte Verde, in south central Chile. Here Tom Dillehay and his crew have excavated a camp site that has been radiocarbon-dated to about 13,000 years ago, and below the levels of that age are layers of tools and debris that may be much older, perhaps up to 33,000 years old.(26)

A wet period followed [at Lake Titicaca] between 13,000 and 11,000 years ago. (69)

We have two areas lying at similar distances from their respective poles. In one, the northern, we have many evidences of heavy glaciation, extending over a period of perhaps 40,000 years, but ending about 14,000 years ago, to give way to the present climate about 10,000 years ago. In Chile and Argentina, on the other hand, in the same relative latitude just as close, presumably, to a pole, we have no glaciation until after the climate has become normal for the present temperate zone in the north. It appears that in Argentina a cool period set in just as the hipsithermal phase with higher temperatures set in all over the northern hemisphere! Clearly, then, there was no similarity in climatic trends, but rather the opposite. (132)

All around the world there is also overwhelming evidence to show that, while the old ice-caps were melting, new ones were taking their place. The continent of Antarctica, for instance, began its gradual glaciation towards the end of the last Ice Age and was still relatively free of ice in certain regions right down until 4000 BC. Other evidence indicates that a short relapse, a kind of mini-ice age, where the ice sheets began advancing once more, occurred in Europe and Asia Minor sometime between 11,000 to 10,000 years ago. More curious is evidence from locations as far apart as northern Armenia and the Andean Altiplano of Bolivia and Peru, not only of the extinction of animals during the eleventh and tenth millennia BC, but also of dramatic elevations in the terrain's altitude above sea level. (149)

Dozens and dozens of hulking blocks lay scattered in all directions, tossed like matchsticks, Posnansky argued, in the terrible natural disaster that had overtaken Tiahuanaco during the eleventh millennium BC: This catastrophe was caused by seismic movements which resulted in an overflow of the waters of Lake Titicaca and in volcanic eruptions... In addition, fragments of human and animal skeletons had been found lying in chaotic disorder among wrought stones, utensils, tools and an endless variety of other things. All of this has been moved, broken and accumulated in a confused heap. Anyone who would dig a trench here two metres deep could not deny that the destructive force of water, in combination with brusque movements of the earth, must have accumulated those different kinds of bones, mixing them with pottery, jewels, tools and utensils...(152)

Mesoamerica

 

North America

 ...the drumlins and other 'hummocky' landforms strewn across Canada are evidence of continental floods of biblical proportions - floods of water in some cases hundreds of metres high - that roared out from beneath the ice-caps during the last deglaciation, destroying or mangling everything in their path. Shaw explicitly suggests that many elements of the universal myth of the deluge may be explained by such floods pouring down off the land - intimately linked, as they were, to the episodes of sudden and ferocious sea-level rise that took place between 15,000 and 8000 years ago. I think it is worth re-emphasizing Shaw's figures, and their implications. He is talking about turbulent, energetic floods 20 metres deep flowing in vortices at high speed and pressure, under the main ice-sheets, across fronts up to 160 kilometres wide. Only floods on such a scale and of such violence could have sculpted the drumlin-fields and hummocky terrain and tortured pitted scablands of Canada and the United States and carved out other remarkable features such as the extremely large through valleys - including those containing the Finger Lakes - that lie to the south of drumlin-fields in northern New York State. 'Volumes of water required to sustain such floods', observes Shaw, 'would have been of the order of one million cubic kilometres equivalent to a rise of several metres in sea-level over a matter of weeks. (124)

Today, Eskimos using skin boats easily cross the ninety kilometers of open sea separating Siberia and America, and recently an American woman slathered herself with grease and actually swam from Alaska to Siberia. But such a sea crossing would not have been necessary during much of the Pleistocene. During periods of glacial advance within the last million years, enourmous quantities of water were converted to ice, lowering the sea level sufficiently to expose a 1500- to 3000-kilometer-wide expanse of the floor of the Bering Sea. This land bridge--usually referred to as Beringia--was probably available at least four times in the last 60,000 years.(25)

Prior to 10,000 years ago, species of deer, bison,camels, bears, foxes, mammoths, moose, caribou,and even rodents crossed from Siberia into the New World. Going in the other way--from America to Asia--were foxes, woodchucks, and, during the early Pliestocene, the ancestors of modern forms of horses, wolves, and other animals.(25)

One might think that good, solid archaeological data--bones and stones--would be a firmer basis for analyzing New World colonization, given the ambiguities in estimating rates of change in teeth, languages, etc. The truth, however, is that the archaeological record does not resolve these questions and disputes about the date, routes, and adaptations of the first Americans. At this time there is no conclusive evidence that people were in the New World and south of Alaska before about 13,000 BC. That they were there at that time or shortly thereafter is certain (insofar as science can ever be certain), since scores of sites have been dated by many different methods to between 13,000 and 10,000 BC.(26)

A controversial new idea suggests that a large space rock exploded over North America 13,000 years ago.

The blast may have wiped out one of America's first Stone Age cultures as well as the continent's big mammals such as the mammoth and the mastodon. The blast, from a comet or asteroid, caused a major bout of climatic cooling which may also have affected human cultures emerging in Europe and Asia.

The evidence comes from layers of sediment at more than 20 sites across North America. These sediments contain exotic materials: tiny spheres of glass and carbon, ultra-small specks of diamond - called nanodiamond - and amounts of the rare element iridium that are too high to have come from Earth.

All, they argue, point to the explosion 12,900 years ago of an extraterrestrial object up to 5km across. No crater remains, possibly because the Laurentide Ice Sheet, which blanketed thousands of sq km of North America during the last Ice Age, was thick enough to mask the impact. Another possibility is that it exploded in the air.

The rocks studied by the researchers have a black layer which, they argue, is the charcoal deposited by wildfires which swept the continent after the explosion. The blast would not only have generated enormous amounts of heat that could have given rise to wildfires, but also brought about a period of climate cooling that lasted 1,000 years - an event known as the Younger Dryas.

Professor James Kennett, from the University of California in Santa Barbara (UCSB), said the explosion could be to blame for the extinction of several large North American mammals at the end of the last Ice Age. "All the elephants, including the mastodon and the mammoth, all the ground sloths, including the giant ground sloth - which, when standing on its hind legs, would have been as big as a mammoth," he told the BBC. "All the horses went out, all the North American camels went out. There were large carnivores like the sabre-toothed cat and an enormous bear called the short-faced bear."

According to the new idea, the comet would have caused widespread melting of the North American ice sheet. The waters would have poured into the Atlantic, disrupting its currents. This, they say, could have caused the 1,000 year-long Younger Dryas cold spell, which also affected Asia and Europe.

The Younger Dryas has been linked by some researchers to changes in the living patterns of people living in the Middle East which led to the beginning of farming.(29)

We have two areas lying at similar distances from their respective poles. In one, the northern, we have many evidences of heavy glaciation, extending over a period of perhaps 40,000 years, but ending about 14,000 years ago, to give way to the present climate about 10,000 years ago. In Chile and Argentina, on the other hand, in the same relative latitude just as close, presumably, to a pole, we have no glaciation until after the climate has become normal for the present temperate zone in the north. It appears that in Argentina a cool period set in just as the hipsithermal phase with higher temperatures set in all over the northern hemisphere! Clearly, then, there was no similarity in climatic trends, but rather the opposite. (132)

Among the largest catastrophic meltwater pulses from Lake Agassiz into the North Atlantic were those at 12.9 kya (9500k cu. m), 11.3 kya (9300k cu. m), and 8.2 kya (163000k cu. m). These outbursts coincide with the start of the Younger Dryas, the Preboreal Oscillation, and the 8.2 kya event, suggesting that outbursts from Lake Agassiz may have repeatedly influenced hemispheric climate by affecting the circulation of the North Atlantic. This, in turn, altered the temperature of the surface of much of the northern North Atlantic, and with it the climate of much of the northern hemisphere. (145)

...sometime during the eleventh millennium BC in the northern parts of Siberia literally thousands of animals, mammoths in particular, simply froze to death. Many were found still standing upright with grass in their mouths and stomachs, indicating that they had been eating at the moment when their fate was sealed. Some of those studied revealed that their frozen skin still contained red blood corpuscles, hinting strongly at the fact that death had been caused through suffocation, either by water or by gases. It is to be remembered that, contrary to popular belief, woolly mammoths did not live in arctic conditions. They inhabited more temperate zones where grasslands and wet boggy forests prevailed. Hibben estimated that over 40 million animals had died in the continent of America alone, while many species - such as giant beaver and sloths, mammoths, mastodons, sabre-tooth cats and woolly rhinoceroses - had become extinct almost overnight. For him: "The Pleistocene period ended in death. This is no ordinary extinction of a vague geological period which fizzled to an uncertain end. This death was catastrophic and all-inclusive . .. The large animals that had given their name to the period became extinct. Their death marked the end of an era." (149)

The northern regions of Alaska and Siberia appear to have been the worst hit by the murderous upheavals between 13,000 and 11,000 years ago. In a great swathe of death around the edge of the Arctic Circle the remains of uncountable numbers oflarge animals have been found - including many carcases with the flesh still intact, and astonishing quantities of perfectly preserved mammoth tusks. The Alaskan muck in which the remains are embedded is like a fine, dark- grey sand. Frozen solid within this mass, in the words of Professor Hibben of the University of New Mexico: lie the twisted parts of animals and trees intermingled with lenses of ice and layers of peat and mosses...Bison, horses, wolves, bears, lions...Whole herds of animals were apparently killed together, overcome by some common power...Such piles of bodies of animals or men simply do not occur by any ordinary natural means...' At various levels stone artefacts have been found 'frozen in situ at great depths, and in association with Ice Age fauna, which confirms that men were contemporary with extinct animals in Alaska'. (152)

There is a remarkable amount of evidence of excessive volcanism during the decline of the Wisconsin ice cap. Far to the south of the frozen Alaskan mucks, thousands of prehistoric animals and plants were mired, all at once, in the famous La Brea tar pits of Los Angeles. Among the creatures unearthed were bison, horses, camels, sloths, mammoths, mastodons and at least seven hundred sabre-toothed tigers. A disarticulated human skeleton was also found, completely enveloped in bitumen, mingled with the bones of an extinct species of vulture. In general, the La Brea remains ('broken, mashed, contorted, and mixed in a most heterogeneous mass') speak eloquently of a sudden and dreadful volcanic cataclysm. The bulk of the animal extinctions took place between 11,000 BC and 9000 BC when there were violent and unexplained fluctuations of climate. (152)

Other

 Around modern Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines, and stretching as far north as Japan, lay the endless plains of 'Sunda Land', a fully fledged antediluvian continent. It was submerged very rapidly some time between 14,000 and 11,000 years ago. (124)

…until as recently as 6000 years ago, as I was to discover when I received Glenn Milne's inundation maps for the region in the summer of 2001, Bimini remained part of a large antediluvian island lying across the Gulf Stream from Florida. Very close to the north-western tip of this palaeo-island, overlooking the Gulf Stream then as they do today, were what is now Paradise Point and the present site of the Bimini Road. (124)

The inundation map for 12,400 years ago shows, to the north, a crescent-shaped island around present-day Grand Bahama, Great Abaco and Little Abaco. Clockwise to the south-east from there we come to a second lost island. This island fills in what is now Tarpum Bay under Eleuthera, then connects via the thin but very probably unbroken line of the Exuma Cays to an even larger exposed area stretching almost as far south as Cuba - itself significantly larger than it is today. Third, to the north-west in the direction of the Florida peninsula covering present-day Andros island and occupying most of the Great Bahama Bank, is the largest antediluvian island of all, with Bimini and the Bimini Road right at its tip.

The inundation map for 6900 years ago shows some coastal erosion of the three main islands but otherwise the picture remains basically unchanged - indicating that the islands survived beyond the last of the three great episodes of global postglacial flooding around 7000 years ago.

However, in the next inundation map in the sequence, for 4800 years ago, all the islands have gone. The most likely culprit for their inundation is the so-called Flandrian transgression, the final spasm of the Ice Age meltdown, which took place between 6000 and 5000 years ago. (124)

…the 1424 Venetian chart does not portray Taiwan and Japan as they looked in the early fifteenth century, the epoch of Cheng Ho's voyages, but as they looked around 12,500 years ago during the meltdown of the Ice Age. One would have to go back to around that date, for example, to find the three main Japanese islands - Honshu, Shikoku and Kyushu - joined together into one larger island, as is the case with Satanaze. (124)

All around the world there is also overwhelming evidence to show that, while the old ice-caps were melting, new ones were taking their place. The continent of Antarctica, for instance, began its gradual glaciation towards the end of the last Ice Age and was still relatively free of ice in certain regions right down until 4000 BC. Other evidence indicates that a short relapse, a kind of mini-ice age, where the ice sheets began advancing once more, occurred in Europe and Asia Minor sometime between 11,000 to 10,000 years ago. More curious is evidence from locations as far apart as northern Armenia and the Andean Altiplano of Bolivia and Peru, not only of the extinction of animals during the eleventh and tenth millennia BC, but also of dramatic elevations in the terrain's altitude above sea level. (149)

Some 260 million years ago, during the Permian period, deciduous trees adapted to a warm climate grew in Antarctica. ...Here at the southernmost known mountain in the world, - scarcely two hundred miles from the South Pole, was found conclusive evidence that the climate of Antarctica was once temperate or even sub-tropical. ...sedimentary cores collected from the bottom of the Ross Sea by one of the Byrd Antarctic Expeditions provide conclusive evidence that 'great rivers, carrying down fine well grained sediments' did flow in this part of Antarctica until perhaps as late as 4000 BC. From 6000 to 15,000 years ago the sediment is fine-grained with the exception of one granule at about 12,000 years ago. This suggests an absence of ice from the area during that period, except perhaps for a stray iceberg 12,000 years ago. ...at one time the temperatures of the Arctic Ocean were similar to the contemporary temperatures of the Bay of Bengal or the Caribbean Sea. (152)