A flip of Earth's magnetic poles about 42,000 years ago may have resulted in the extinction of megafauna and the end of the Neanderthals, researchers have said. Neanderthals are an extinct species or subspecies of archaic humans who lived in Eurasia until about 40,000 years ago. Earth's magnetic fields, which protect the planet from damaging radiations, may have reversed about 42,000 years ago which may have weakened the protective shield, exposing the planet to cosmic radiations.
A researcher said such a flip led to a rise in carbon-14 content of the atmosphere. This record reveals a substantial increase in the carbon-14 content of the atmosphere culminating during the period of weakening magnetic field strength preceding the polarity switch, A global environmental crisis 42,000 years ago.
One of such flips in magnetic poles happened 42,000 years ago and lasted for about 1,000 years. Researchers have said that the flip of Earth's magnetic poles may have lead to the extinction of megafauna and the end of the Neanderthals.
Researcher said, we find that geomagnetic field minima caused substantial changes in atmospheric ozone concentration and circulation, driving synchronous global climate shifts that caused major environmental changes, extinction events, and transformations in the archaeological record.
Prof Chris Turney of the University of New South Wales and co-author of the study said, it probably would have seemed like the end of days. The researchers have called this event the Adams event. Global impacts of these events, however, remain unclear.