Crisis Ensued The Last Time Earth’s Magnetic Poles Flipped, Researchers Say : NPR

  A giant kauri tree grows in Waipoua Forest in Northland, New Zealand. Trees like this one that fell long ago and were preserved for thousands of years are helping researchers discern fluctuations in the Earth's magnetic poles. Kim Westerskov/Getty Images
A giant kauri tree grows in Waipoua Forest in Northland, New Zealand. Trees like this one that fell long ago and were preserved for thousands of years are helping researchers discern fluctuations in the Earth’s magnetic poles. Kim Westerskov/Getty Images

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An ancient, well-preserved tree that was alive the last time the Earth’s magnetic poles flipped has helped scientists pin down more precise timing of that event, which occurred about 42,000 years ago.

This new information has led them to link the flipping of the poles to key moments in the prehistoric record, like the sudden appearance of cave art and the mysterious extinction of large mammals and the Neanderthals. They argue that the weakening of the Earth’s magnetic field would have briefly transformed the world by altering its climate and allowing far more ultraviolet light to pour in.

Source: Crisis Ensued The Last Time Earth’s Magnetic Poles Flipped, Researchers Say : NPR

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