Exploring abrupt climate change induced by comets and asteroids during human history

Here They Go Again: Holliday and Surovell use dozer not trowel


Surovell-Holliday 2012 Tusk commentary

Vance Holliday and Todd Surovell published a paper in PLOS One this week. It is unsurprising but again disappointing that these hacks continue their jihad on the YDB hypothesis based on negligent analysis.

Particular galling is their wanton substitution of an optical microscope for an electron microscope. I say “wanton” because the publication history regarding magnetic spherules resulting from impacts¬†clearly calls for the more sensitive instrument to document a spherule as a melt product – not, for instance, rounded sand.

It is impossible to characterize a spherule (of cosmic or terrestrial material) as being of impact origin using a tool that is orders of magnitude less sensitive than what is called for and used to produce the previously published data.

It is as if someone double-checked Holliday and Surovell’s own archeological work by bulldozing an adjacent square, rummaging about, and tossing manhandled contrary items onto the balk.

From LeCompte (2012):

Because those authors did not perform SEM imaging and EDS analyses, it is impossible for them to reach reliable conclusions about what they found. Surovell et al. did not perform SEM imaging or geochemical analyses, and yet, like Pigati et al., asserted that all magnetic spherules are cosmic in origin. Pinter et al. and Haynes et al. did not report the results of their spherule SEM analyses and likewise concluded spherules were of cosmic origin without supporting data. Lacking SEM imaging and/or EDS analyses, the accuracy of their spherule counts and speculations about origin are highly suspect. As an example of this, Pinter et al. reported observing large numbers of framboids and detrital magnetite well outside the YDB and then speculated that most YDB spherules are simply these other particles. Our results and images indicate their claim to be unfounded. There are fundamental and easily observed differences between quench-melted spherules, unmelted detrital magnetite, and authigenic framboids.


6 Responses

  1. George, I like your archeological analogy, it fits since I’m of the authors is an archeologist.
    I have a saying at work, “It is like swatting flies with a sledge hammer”, you are going to expend a lot of energy and wave your arms around a lot, and not get much done.
    I agree that the resolution of an optical microscope is tptaly inadequate to make any meaningful conclusions.
    What I have noticed , is certain individuals that keep popping up, seem to still be driven by a transmogrified “Clovis first” dogma, and that only the appearance of modern humans could have affected the biome in any substantial way.
    And I chat help but notice this paper comes on the heals of one of Holliday’s a paper supportive of the YDB event hypothesis.
    At first I thought Holliday was coming around since they thanked him for his guidance, but I guess I was wrong.
    There are still a lot of misguided assumptions that pervade in the world of archeology, paleontology and anthropology, on both sides of the debate. One being that Clovis went extinct, nothing could be further from the truth, Clovis was driven by environmental changes away from their ancestral range, and this movement falls in line with the changes that ensued during the YD. The retreat From the eastern seaboard, and transformation to hunting different game in southern plains, and their appearance on the west coast, after the YD onset, 600 years after for central calo and later the farther north and south you go.
    There were still megafauna in refugia in cal. I can even call out the route they took, from the storied sites in NM, across Arizona to China lake, in the Mojave, where they are on top of the YDB, to Witt, in central cal., 600 years after the onset of the YD. From here they spread into the Sierra Nevada, and north into WA and OR.
    They also followed the passes from the central valley to the coast and interrupted the native Dieguito culture for several centuries, and gave rise to the people we now know as the Chumash, a language isolate by the way.
    I kinda lost focus a little so I’ll quit now.

  2. Thanks so for continuing the research and the commitment to the scientific method. I read this blog faithfully and also believe — although not a researcher — that Clovis people were too smart to be wiped out. Lot’s more to be found, if people who want to look could be funded. Lot’s happened before 11,000 years ago, it seems.

  3. Thanks, Pyromancer! I agree entirely and additional funding is being sought from unconventional sources…

  4. pyromancer76…

    Hmmm… Do you really think that if a comet came that smarts is going to save Clovis (or US?) We at least MIGHT be able to do a missile thing. Clovis? Their points were pretty good but . . .

  5. CevinQ and George –

    Yeah, an optical microscope in these studies has super limited use. And VERY little use except for perhaps preliminary separation of particles.

    Every time Surovell gets involved, he shows more and more what a numbskull he is.

    WHAT Holliday paper supportive of the YDB????

    As to Clovis migrating out west after the YDB, I think you are on thin ice there. Whatever you do, do NOT go by the Anzick site. I’ve read the early docs on that, and they do NOT know what layers the human bones were found were in. The articles from about 3 years ago were ill-informed (perhaps willfully so, in cherry picking the evidence) about the layers and the early provenance of the bones. The so-called Clovis child assertion, is, therefore, garbage. Yes, they found Clovis points. What AGE they were is still unknown, no matter what any particular article or scientist says. They can’t go back and undo the fact that the bones were pulled out by amateurs before being properly controlled in situ. Therefore, they will never be known for sure. And one kid’s bones are LONG afterward.

    In addition, it is erroneous for arkies to assign all Clovis points to the original Clovis people (whoever they were, which is NOT known). The spread of them was just as likely through trade/exchange as by solely Clovis-owned. And since the points SURVIVE, even until today, their owners could have been just about anybody out in Anzick. OR Blackwater Draw, for that matter.

    It is not nonsense to suggest that if the eastern Clovis people/owners were wiped out by a comet and its effects, then any Clovis at more distal locations (like Blackwater Draw and Anzick) would have been more likely to have survived. At the same time, I am not privy to any information that any Clovis artifacts out west come from times later than the YDB. Blackwater Draw certainly doesn’t, the last I heard. And Anzick is an unknown; it’s 12,500ya date is crap. In a layer 300 years after the YDB? Like I said, the relative dates of the artifacts are unknown relative to the kids’ bones. Assemblages in caches – what do they date the cache from? The bottom of the pit? The surface? Hardly.

  6. Steve,
    I just happened to see your reply.
    There is more to Clovis than just points, its a whole cultural package, and you find the whole package at Anzick. And Anzick has been professionaly excavated several times.
    Anzick is without doubt a clovis assemblage, the cache and remains were covered in red ochre before burial, so its pretty hard to argue that they were not comtemporaneous. The cache contains all stages of blade production, and other culturally diagnostic items, like beveled ivory rods.
    There are sites in california namely, Borax Lake in northern cal, Witt, and numerous sites in coastal central and southern cal, where a pre exsisting point tradition is replaced by a clovis tradition before transitioning to a later archic style.
    At Borax lake clovis assimilates into a new environment and replaces an earlier tradition when they adapted to a lake side environment.
    Here at the Witt, site some of clovis cultural artifacts were surface finds on a ancient lake shore, where again clovis is found above a pre existing tool tradition, at a lakeside fishing camp. At this site we also see the contact with the coastal people in the form of shell beads and stone cresents, made in the same fashion(heat treated) and stone as the clovis points found at the site. The timing of the arrival is well contstrained by the 600 year hiatus of occupation in california, that starts approx 13kya, clovis arrives after putting them in western central cal 12.4kya. And we know that it is clovis culturally because, aside from their distinctive points they have a better diagnostic artifact,the humpy. The hump is an odd little tool nobody has a consensus as to what is was used for, but they are found at nearly every clovis site across the country and lots have turned up in western central cal.
    In Malibu a clovis point was found above a pre exsisting occupation and below a 9 kya Chumash deposit, making it around 11kya.
    In my previous comment i mentioned the Dieguito culture, 60 years ago Carter argued that what were thought of then as 3 succesive separate cultures in coastal so cal, was actually one culture interupted by outsiders.
    For thousands of years these people had been living a coastal lifestyle, mainly gathering shell fish and grinding up stuff and not making any tools more complcated than pebble choppers, they didnt need them. Then about 10-11 kya, they all of a sudden started making bifacial blades and started hunting game animals, and after about 400 years or so they reverted back to their old ways.

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