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Scientists have uncovered an impact crater large enough to swallow the District of Columbia buried beneath a half mile of snow and ice in Greenland.

The finding suggests that a giant iron asteroid smashed into what is today a glacier during the last ice age, an era known as the Pleistocene Epoch that started 2.6 million years ago. When it ended only 11,700 years ago, mega-fauna including saber-toothed cats had died out while humanity had inherited the Earth.

“This is the first impact crater found beneath one of our planet’s ice sheets,” said Kurt Kjaer, a geologist at the Center for GeoGenetics at the Natural History Museum of Denmark and lead author of the study, published recently in the journal Science Advances.

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