The bones of an adult mammoth and its calf have been discovered at a 37,000-year-old butchery site in New Mexico, suggesting humans settled North America 17,000 years ago. we didn’t believe it before.
A team of scientists, led by the University of Texas at Austin, extracted the collagen from the bones, allowing them to carbon date the age established at 36,250 to 38,900 years old.
The bones were discovered in a three-foot-tall pile, 95% of which belonged to the adult, and had kill marks and fractures from blunt impact.
The discovery adds to growing evidence that there were societies before people crossed the Bering Strait land bridge around 20,000 years ago. The bridge, also called Beringia, connected Siberia and Alaska during the last ice age, and enabled people to come from Asia in North America.
Timothy Rowe, lead author of the study, told DailyMail.com that ancient humans likely came from Asia, but whether they took a coastal or land route to America remains an open question. A separate study in 2021 found that some early Americans crossed the Bering Sea in paddle boats, stopping along a chain of islands that were above the surface during the last ice age.
Previous studies have produced remains of ancient humans dating to 20,000 years ago and other artifacts suggesting there were people in the area before Clovis – those who crossed the land bridge. However, mammoth bones are the first evidence found so far.
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Scientists discovered a meter-tall pile of mammoth bones that belonged to an adult female and her calf. However, 95 percent of the bones were from the adult
Rowe said in a statement: ‘It is not a charismatic site with a beautiful frame stretched out on the side. Everything is screwed up. But that’s the story.
The discovery was also made in Rowe’s garden. His neighbor spotted a tusk protruding from the ground and he quickly called a team to help with the excavation.
After most of the dirt was removed, the open-air butchery site was revealed, comprising different areas separated by stone and clay walls.
The mammoth bones, both the adult and the calf, were found in a pile with the adults’ heads and tusks resting on top.
The bones were discovered at an open-air butchery site that included separate areas blocked off by walls.
The mammoth bones showed slaughter marks and fractures from blunt impact
Most of the remains in the heap belonged to the adult, including 44 broken cranial fragments, and the intact upper right second molar and 12 isolated dental plates, 25 ribs broken into 52 fragments, 3 vertebrae and 15 vertebral fragments, 32 bone flakes percussion impact bones, 9 “butterfly fragments”, 20 unidentifiable bone fragments and 267 bags of small “bone fragments”.
Pictured is an illustration of what the adult mammoth looked like
“The adult face (tusks, premaxillae and partial maxillae) is the largest and heaviest element present and was positioned above the pile of bones,” reads the study published in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution.
“He was sheared from the skull at the nostrils and his maxillary sockets are broken and empty.
“The calf is represented by a partial left maxilla and a dentary with intact dentitions, three isolated dental plates, a diaphysis of the left tibia and 10 rib fragments.”
The study also notes that the separation of the adult’s facial bones from the skull was caused by “the deepest skull fracture”.
Before the mammoth bones were discovered, it was a 20,000-year-old burial in Montana that was the earliest evidence of human settlement in North America.
The discovery adds to growing evidence that there were societies before people crossed the Bering Strait land bridge around 20,000 years ago. Pictured is a map showing how the land bridge once connected the two continents
The study also notes that the separation of the adult’s facial bones from the skull was caused by “the deepest skull fracture”. Pictured, the animal’s facial bones show fractures from blunt impact
In 1968, construction workers discovered ancient tools and the remains of a young child at the site.
It’s the oldest genome ever recovered from the New World, and artifacts found with the body show the boy was part of the Clovis culture that crossed the Bering Strait land bridge.
The so-called Anzick skeleton was found along with around 125 artifacts, including fluted Clovis spearheads and tools made from deer antler, and coated in red ochre, a type of mineral.
Eske Willerslev of the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, who led the study, said in a statement: ‘The family of the boy Clovis is the direct ancestor of approximately 80% of all present-day Native Americans.
“Although the Clovis culture is gone, its people live on today.”