A recent study by a team of Danish-Canadian scientists rules out cold weather as the reason that the Vikings abandoned their settlements in Greenland in the 15th century. When cold destroyed crops, say the experts, the settlers just changed their diets to seal meat.
According to the study: When settlement began in the early 11th century, only between 20 and 30 percent of their diet came from the sea. But seal hunting played a growing role in the ensuing centuries. "They ate more and more seal meat, with the animals constituting up to 80 percent of their diet in the 14th century," explains team member Jan Heinemeier, a dating expert from the University of Aarhus, in Denmark.