New Mexico mammoth one of the best evidence for early humans in North America

New Mexico mammoth one of the best evidence for early humans in North America

The remains of two mammoths discovered in New Mexico suggest that humans lived in North America much earlier than thought. Credits: NPS.

About 37,000 years ago, a giant mother and her calf died at the hands of humans.

The bones of the butcher site record how humans broke their carcasses, shaped pieces of their long bones into disposable blades, and put their fat on fire. But one important detail sets this site apart from others of this era. It’s in New Mexico—a place where most archaeological evidence Doesn’t keep humans until thousands of years later.

A recent study led by scientists from the University of Texas at Austin has found that the site offers some of the most conclusive evidence for humans settling in North America than has been traditionally thought.

Researchers revealed that very little evidence has been found at one place. These include fossils with blunt-force fractures, bone-layered knives with eroded edges, and signs of controlled fire. and thanks to the carbon dating analysis on collagen extracted from giant bonesThe site also comes with a definite age of 36,250 to 38,900 years old, making it one of the oldest known sites left by ancient humans in North America.

“What we found is amazing,” said lead author Timothy Rowe, a paleontologist and a professor at the UT Jackson School of Geosciences. “It’s not a charismatic site with a beautiful skeleton laid on its side. It’s all over. But that’s the story.”

credit: University of Texas at Austin

conclusion . were published in Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution,

Rowe doesn’t usually research mammoths or humans. He joined because bones appeared in his backyard, literally. A neighbor watches weathering weather from a hillside at Rowe’s New Mexico property in 2013. When Rowe went to investigate, he found a massive skull and other crushed bones that appeared to be intentionally broken. It appears to be a butcher’s site. But suspected early human sites are shrouded in uncertainty. It can be extremely difficult to determine what was shaped by nature versus human hands.

This uncertainty has sparked debate in the anthropological community about when humans first arrived in North America. The Clovis culture, which dates back 16,000 years, left behind elaborate tools made of stone. but on older sites where stone tools Absent, the evidence tends to be more subjective, said retired Texas State University professor Mike Collins, who was not involved in this paper and who oversaw research in a well-known Gault. archaeological site Near Austin with an abundance of Clovis and pre-Clovis artifacts.

New Mexico mammoth one of the best evidence for early humans in North America

A close-up picture of a pile of bone during excavation. This random mix of ribs, broken cranial bones, a molar, bone fragments, and stone cobbles is a garbage pile from Butcher Mammoth. It was preserved under the skull and teeth of an adult mammoth. credit: Timothy Rowe / University of Texas at Austin.

Although the vast site clearly lacks associated stone tools, Rowe and his co-authors discovered a range of supporting evidence by putting samples from the site through scientific analyzes in the laboratory.

Among other discoveries, CT scans taken by the High-Resolution X-ray Computed Tomography Facility of the University of Texas revealed bony clumps with microscopic fracture networks, similar to freshly bonded cow bones and well-placed puncture wounds. were similar to, which helped in the removal of fat. Bones of the ribs and vertebrae.

“There are really only a few very efficient ways to skin a cat, so to speak,” Rowe said. “Butcher patterns are quite the specialty.”

Furthermore, chemical analysis of the sediment surrounding the bones showed that the fire particles came from continuous and controlled burning, not from lightning or wildfire. The material also contained pulverized bone and burnt remains. small animals-Mostly fish (even if the site is 200 feet above the nearest river), but also birds, rodents and lizards.

  • New Mexico mammoth one of the best evidence for early humans in North America

    The excavation site mostly consists of broken bones from mammoth ribs and spines. The most prominent fossil is a portion of the skull of an adult mammoth. credit: Timothy Rowe / University of Texas at Austin.

  • New Mexico mammoth one of the best evidence for early humans in North America

    Butcher marks on giant ribs. The top rib shows a fracture from blunt force impact; The middle rib shows a puncture wound, probably made by an instrument; The lower rib shows bite marks. credit: Timothy Rowe et al. / The University of Texas at Austin.

based on genetic evidence From artifacts from indigenous populations and other archaeological sites in South and Central America, some scientists have proposed that North America had at least two founding populations: the Clovis and a pre-Clovis society with a distinct genetic ancestry.

The researchers suggest that the New Mexico site, along with its age and Bone Tools, rather than elaborate stone technology, may lend support to this theory. Collins said the study adds to a growing body of evidence for pre-Clovis societies in North America while providing a toolkit that can help others find evidence that may have otherwise been overlooked.

“Tim has done excellent and thorough work that represents frontier research,” Collins said. “It’s creating a path that others can learn from and follow.”

Gault site research pushes back date of earliest North Americans

more information:
Timothy B. Rowe et al., Human occupation of the North American Colorado Plateau 37,000 years ago, Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution (2022). DOI: 10.3389/fevo.2022.903795

CitationNew Mexico Mammoths in Best Evidence for Early Humans in North America (2022, Aug. 1) Aug 1 2022 received from.

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