Cataclysmic Comet Cuts Clovis Culture: A New Donleavy Title?

That’s like a J.P. Donleavy title, isn’t it? No one mentions Donleavy anymore. He was a great comic novelist in the Sixties and Seventies. One of his titles is The Beastly Beatitudes of Balthazar B (1968). He’s good. His best novel is The Onion Eaters (1975), about a plan to bring the snakes back to Ireland. But that’s not what I’m thinking about this morning. I’m glad I’m not at a press conference, like Obama being asked about Henry Louis Gates getting arrested at his own house. I’d definitely blurt the wrong thing and get CNN all righteous on me. Look, even my text is blue. (Can’t figure out how to fix it, either.)
So my last post mentioned the theory that a cataclysmic “impact event” (usually thought to be either an asteroid or comet) wiped out the Clovis Culture around 12,900 years ago. Here’s an article about it in yesterday’s Scientific American:
It’s a good piece, giving voice to the theorists and skeptics as well. One skeptic argues that evidence shows there was never a great die-off to the Clovis people. I’ve heard that, but the evidence he’s arguing for is rather scant and sketchy as well. Few archaeologists (but some) will admit we really don’t know much of what happened 13,000 years ago. We do know that period was the last gasp or so of the large mammals, like mammoths and ground sloths.
But one thing they left out or touched on only tangentially: The period between 12,900-11,500 is known as the Younger Dryas in climate terms, a return to Ice Age conditions in North America for 1,500 years. The cause remains a mystery. Some argue the impact locale was the Great Lakes region and that it loosed a mighty rush of fresh water into the Atlantic, flooding and stopping the Gulf Stream. It’s relevant today because a similar event is projected if too much fresh water from Greenland ice cap melt floods the Atlantic once again. For a great read about this and other possible global warming ramifications, check out Tim Flannery’s The Weathermakers.

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