Washington, September 28 (ANI): If a new study is anything to go by, a supervolcano that erupted in central Europe 13,000 years ago, proved to be tough on the teeth for humans and animals during that period, as a large portion of the region's vegetation was covered in a blanket of ash and rock bits.
According to a report in Discovery News, the Laacher See supervolcano eruption 13,000 years ago devastated 540 square miles of forested land right around the crater and conservative estimates suggest an area the size of Minnesota was covered in a blanket of ash and rock bits.
Flung into the air at the slightest breeze, the fluffy mixture of tephra particles stung the eyes, irritated the lungs and coated anything animals or people would have cared to eat.
For game animals like elk, hare and reindeer, chewing plants would've ground their teeth to the pulp and left them starving.
Wildlife probably fled the worst affected areas of central Europe, leaving northern tribes living in Germany, the Netherlands and southern Sweden marooned on a withered landscape.
Populations dwindled, and archaeological evidence suggests they abandoned bows and arrows in favor of more primitive hunting spears.
"We have very little information on how small scale hunter-gatherer societies would respond to this," said Felix Riede of Aarhus University in Denmark. "Would they just leave? Or would they try and deal with the tephra?" he added.
In the study, Riede and colleague Jeffrey Wheeler of the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom show that the volcanic particles are about twice as hard as most mammal teeth, including those belonging to humans.
Any meal seasoned with a coating of tephra would have been miserable, if not life-threatening.
Even a few months of exposure to tephra could have been devastating. But Riede and Wheeler think it could have lingered on the landscape for as much as 300 years, carried away by rain only to return in drifting, wind-blown dunes. (ANI)