Did a Cosmic Event Kill The Pleistocene Megafauna? F 10/18

Dr. Rex Hanger, UWW Dept. of Geography and Geology, will give a one-hour talk about ““Did a Cosmic Event Kill The Pleistocene Megafauna?”” on Fri., Oct. 18, at 8pm in Upham 140. It’s the third lecture in the 2013-2014 Whitewater Observatory Lecture Series. A public viewing session at Whitewater Observatory will follow the lecture at 9:15pm, weather permitting. All lectures are free, and everyone is invited to attend!

Andersen Library may be able to provide additional materials if you’d like to learn more. Search HALCat for books, government documents, and videos. Search article databases for articles in journals, magazines, or newspapers. Ask a librarian for assistance with finding materials.

Cover art of Fire on Earth bookExamples of items you could find are the book (I love this title!) Fire on Earth: Doomsday, dinosaurs, and humankind (3rd-floor Main Collection, QB377 .G83 1996). Try, for example, a keyword search for “collisions with earth.” Search article databases to find articles such as “The Younger Dryas impact hypothesis: A requiem” (Earth-Science Reviews, 2011, vol.106:no.3/4, pp.247-264) and “An independent evaluation of the Younger Dryas extraterrestrial impact hypothesis” (Proceedings Of The National Academy Of Sciences Of The United States Of America, 2009, vol.106:no.43, pp.18155-18158).


Near the end of the Pleistocene Epoch (~12,900 years ago), the mammalian megafauna of North America suffered a mass extinction that altered terrestrial ecosystems ever after. Historical debate on the potential causes of the event center around an either/or scenario invoking rapid climate change or overkill by humans.

A new hypothesis of an asteroid impact forcing the biological catastrophe has recently been proposed. Evidence for this impact
includes the existence of a charred, carbon-rich soil layer (the “black mat”) at over 50 sites in North America at that age,
containing various high-temperature melt products. In addition, nanodiamonds produced by the impact are present at the horizon that corresponds with that date in ice cores from Greenland. Tonight’s lecture will reveal the current state of the argument, with a review of the megafauna that suffered extinction, a summary of the historical (climate or kill) debate, and the evidence for and against the asteroid impact hypothesis.

And plan ahead to attend other lectures in this series, which will address damage to or the destruction of the Earth!

  • Nov. 1: future blasting of Earth by a supernova explosion of a nearby star
  • Nov. 8: future loss of Earth’s magnetic field, and
  • Nov. 15: unpredicted meteor that exploded over Russia last February.

About Barbara

I am a Reference & Instruction librarian, head of that department in Andersen Library, an associate professor, and a member of the General Education Review Committee and Faculty Senate. I've been working at UW-W since July 1, 1990.
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One Response to Did a Cosmic Event Kill The Pleistocene Megafauna? F 10/18

  1. If you are interested in the very cutting edge of this debate, the talk pages of the wikipedia entry on the Younger Dryas impact hypothesis is the place to find it. Thanks.


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