Fragments of Cape York main content.

Fragments of Cape York

Part of Hall of Meteorites.


Exhibition Text

A total of seven fragments of the huge Cape York meteorite have been identified; three are on display here. Ahnighito, the large mass in the center of the room, is the biggest piece of Cape York ever discovered. The fragments known as the Woman and the Dog are considerably smaller and were found near each other, roughly seven kilometers (four miles) from Ahnighito.

When meteorites enter Earth's atmosphere, they are typically traveling at tens of thousands of miles an hour. At such high speeds, friction with the air causes the surfaces to heat up and melt until the meteorites eventually shatter.

Greenland’s meteorites

The three fragments of Cape York on display—Ahnighito, the Woman and the Dog—were found in the Melville Bay region of northwestern Greenland. The Woman and the Dog were originally on the mainland. Ahnighito was located on an island just offshore.

Three other Cape York fragments have been found in Greenland and one in Canada. No crater associated with any of the Cape York fragments—including the largest one, Ahnighito—has ever been located. Some scientists speculate that Cape York fell when this area of Greenland was blanketed by a thick sheet of snow and ice.

For Educators

Topic: Earth Science

Subtopic: Meteorites

Keywords: Meteorites, Astrophysics, Astrogeology, Asteroids

Audience: General