Mammoth and Calf Bones Newly Discovered in New Mexico Show Signs of Butchery, Exciting Discovery this could help refine estimates of when humans first populated the Americas.
The specimens Date between 36,250 and 38,900 years ago, according to carbon dating analysis of bone collagen. The paleontological team found blunt fractures on the bones. What appear to be flake knives made from mammoth bones and evidence of a controlled fire were also at the site – signs that humans were involved in the disappearance of mammoths. The team’s research appeared last month in Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution.
“It’s not a charismatic site with a nice skeleton laid out on its side,” Timothy Rowe, a paleontologist at the University of Texas at Austin and lead author of the recent paper, said in a UT Release. “Everything is screwed up. But that’s the story. »
At first glance, Rowe thought the pile of bones looked like a butchery site. But without complex stone tools nearby– a telltale sign of humanity – he couldn’t be sure.
But running CT scans on multiple samples from the site revealed 32 bone chips with noticeable fractures that the team said could not be explained by geological processes or the cleanup. About half of the bone shards had sharp edges suitable for cutting.
CT scans also revealed that several of the mammoths’ ribs and vertebrae had puncturesinvisible to the naked eye due to the way the bone-colored sediments have filled them. The team thinks that these perforations may have served to accelerate the drainage of fat from the bones.
“There are really only a few effective ways to skin a cat, so to speak,” Rowe said in the statement.. “The butchery bosses are quite characteristic.” (I can only presume this kkill and skin a mammoth required more effort than a cat.)
Besides mammoth bones, the site also contained evidence of small burnt animals: birds, rodents, lizards and fish, despite the nearest river being 200 feet from the site. The burnt condition of the remains indicates that they were heated with a controlled fire, rather than lightning or other naturally occurring fires, the researchers said.
If all these clues are indeed the vestiges of human activityit would be yet another nail in the coffin for the former Clovis First theory, that the first people reached North America about 13,000 years ago. Last year, Fossilized human footprints in New Mexico pushed back human presence in North America for 10,000 years. The recently discovered mammoth site is about 15,000 years older than these footprints. Previous search suggested that some Indigenous Americans in the Amazon are more genetically similar to Indigenous Australians and other groups in Oceania than to modern Native American populations, an indicator that several human populations entered North America from Asia in a ancient past.
More: Footprints suggest humans migrated deep into North America earlier than thought