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Last Extinction, The

Last Extinction, The

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WGBH Boston Video
What killed the mastodons? Millennia ago, these tusked beasts disappeared from North America, along with woolly mammoths, saber-tooth cats, and other oversized mammals. For decades, a debate has raged over the cause of this extinction. Now NOVA presents an exclusive in-depth investigation of a controversial new hypothesis that suggests that a cosmic collision could be to blame. If a comet exploded in the upper atmosphere over the Great Lakes, the blast would have vaporized everything within a 100-mile radius. From coast to coast, wildfires would have raged and turned forests into cinder. Now, at numerous sites across the continent, a multidisciplinary team finds evidence that just such a fire once ravaged North America. But other scholars argue that ancient hunters armed with a distinctive, lethal stone weapon—the Clovis spear point—were the culprits. Still others believe the unstable climate at the end of the Ice Age was responsible. Could the dramatic new evidence suggest a third possibility—that it was the Clovis point, climate change, and cosmic explosion together that drove the giant beasts into oblivion?

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