A well excavated and well dated one inch thick layer of impact products near Sandusky, Ohio:
Did extraterrestrial event alter the course of history?
BY DAN REINHART
For years Sheriden Cave, west of Carey, has been recognized as one of the foremost archaeological sites in the Americas, if not the world. At the cave scientists have unearthed extinct animal species and artifacts that have been undisturbed since the last ice age.
Recently, however, excavations by Dr. Ken Tankersley, an archaeologist from the University of Cincinnati, have uncovered evidence that indicate an extraterrestrial event some 13,000 years ago may have permanently altered the course of history in the Americas and possibly the whole world. As a result the cave will be featured in several upcoming documentaries on the Discovery Channel and the History Channel.
"The most interesting county."
"Wyandot County is the most interesting county in Ohio," Tankersley told a group gathered at Woody's restaurant in Upper Sandusky Dec. 4. Tankersley was the guest speaker at the "First Citizens Presents" breakfast and he has appeared in documentaries on a host of television channels including PBS, Discovery, National Geographic, Animal Planet and others. He also worked on a film with the late Steve Irwin.
Tankersley said that besides being shaped in a square because it was the last Indian reservation in the State of Ohio, Wyandot County also contains, at Sheriden Cave, a "complete, uninterrupted archaeological sequence spanning the 13,000 years since the last ice age."
Tankersley said he first became interested in the area in the early 1990s. He was in New York at the time and a friend who was doing some work at Sheriden Cave told him that excavations there had uncovered fossils from a number of extinct species – including the short-faced bear – that previously had never been found in the State of Ohio.
Excavation at the cave also uncovered a flaked stone artifact that was dated back some 13,000 years to an ancient people known as the Clovis culture. Tankersley said that although there are other Clovis sites in the world, Sheriden Cave is the only site where animal fossils can be found right alongside the flaked stone tools ancient people of the same time period made. For that reason Sheriden Cave became a major archaeological discovery.
Tankersley said he originally became involved in Sheriden Cave excavations because remnants of an ancient peccary had been found there. He came to look at the site and after finding a number of artifacts he wrote to the National Science Foundation who, with the help of the Hendricks family, who own the cave, agreed to sponsor an excavation there in 1996.
Tankersley eventually found a number of bones that had been carved into tools and a fluted Clovis point among the remains of various extinct animals. He noted that some of the ancient bones found in Sheriden Cave are fresher than you might find on a modern road-kill. "It's absolutely incredible," he said. "They're abundant and very well preserved."
The Black Mat.
As the excavations continued workers began to uncover a lot of burnt bones. Tankersley said that at first no one paid very much attention to them but eventually questions were raised about how the bones got burned. He said it was obvious that if primitive man had cooked an animal so much that the bones were burned, no one would have wanted to eat the meat. They concluded that the primitive people must have thrown the bones in the fire after they were done eating. But there was no evidence of hearths in the cave. "Why were these animal bones so severely burned?" Tankersley asked.
As excavators searched for an answer to the burnt bones they began to notice an inch-thick layer of earth in the sediment throughout the cave that was black. Scientists were able to obtain 30 radiocarbon dates that indicated the layer of burned material, or "Black Mat," was about 13,000 years old. It dated to about the same time period that Clovis man and many of the mega-beasts disappeared. (The radiocarbon dates have made Sheriden Cave one of only 12 securely dated Clovis sites in the world.)
A new theory takes shape.
With the help of a man named Alan West, Tankersley found that Black Mat layers have been discovered in other late Ice Age sites across the country from the Carolinas to Texas and even into Canada. In each instance the Black Mat of burnt material dates back to the same time period. Furthermore, the Black Mats contain an abundance of micrometeorites. Tankersley said that soil from the Black Mat in Sheriden Cave contains so many magnetic, microscopic meteorites that he can wave a child's magnet across samples of the soil and cover the magnet with them.
Tankersley took the Black Mat material to the University of Cincinnati and magnified it 10,000 times through an electron microscope. He found it was also filled with microscopic "detonation diamonds." He said the majority of the (microscopic) diamonds in the Black Mat are extraterrestrial.
Tankersley pointed out that when asteroids and meteorites explode over the earth they create diamonds. He says the ones at Sheriden Cave are either directly from objects from outer space or they are the result of a major explosion over the earth – like a comet exploding over organic material that compressed it and made diamonds. Tankersley said it is increasingly likely that an asteroid or meteor is the reason for the disappearance of the Clovis people and the mega-beasts 13,000 years ago.
Tankersley said the evidence indicates that the catastrophic event may not have wiped out Clovis man and the mega mammals completely, but life definitely changed and creatures that survived the event had to find a way to exist in a changed environment. For example, there wasn't a lot of food around and since the mega mammals required a lot of food to survive, they had to adapt or die. He said some of the mega mammals became smaller.
Although evidence indicates that an asteroid created the Black Mat, no one has ever found a crater to prove where the event originated. Some scientists believe that Hudson Bay may actually be the crater.
13,000 years later.
Tankersley said that the implications for us in the 21st century are sobering in that the impact of another history-altering asteroid with earth is not a question of "if" it will happen, but "when" it's going to happen next.
Tankersley said that some of the people from Wyandot County who made his work at Sheriden Cave possible include Keith Hendricks and his father Richard, Kate Orians who wrote a number of stories about Tankersley and his work for The Progressor-Times and Dale Stansbery of the Ohio Archaeological Council.
Tankersley also noted that the latest discoveries made at Sheriden Cave will be featured in a film on the Discovery Channel in December and another film on the History Channel this spring.
Man and Impact in the Americas
(Hundreds of pages of small type filled with typos, not enough illustrations, and as if this were not enough,
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