Bones of an adult mammoth and a calf were discovered at a 37,000-year-old slaughter site in New Mexico, indicating that humans settled in North America 17,000 years ago than previously thought.
A team of scientists, led by the University of Texas at Austin, extracted collagen from bones, allowing them to determine the carbon age ranging from 36,250 to 38,900 years.
The bones were discovered in a three-foot-high pile, 95 percent of which belonged to an adult, and showed signs of butchering and fractures from the impact of the sharp force.
The discovery adds to mounting evidence of communities before people crossed the Bering Strait’s land bridge about 20,000 years ago. The bridge, also called Beringia, connected Siberia and Alaska during the last Ice Age, and allowed people to come from Asia to 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 overland route to America remains an open question. A separate study in 2021 found that some of the first Americans crossed the Bering Sea in paddle boats, stopping along a chain of above-surface islands during the last Ice Age.
Previous studies have produced remains of ancient humans dating as far back as 20,000 years, as well as other artifacts that indicate the presence of people in the area before Clovis – those who crossed the land bridge. However, mammoth bones are the oldest evidence found to date.
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Scientists have discovered a three-foot-high pile of mammoth bones belonging to an adult female and her calf. However, 95% of the bones were from adults
In a statement, Rowe said: ‘It is not an attractive site with a beautiful skeleton on its side. Everything is set. But that’s what the story is.
It was also discovered in Roe’s backyard. His neighbor discovered a tusk sticking out of the ground and quickly called in a team to help with the excavations.
Once most of the dirt had been removed, the open-air slaughter site was revealed featuring various areas separated by walls made of stone and mud.
Bones of a mammoth, an adult and a calf, were found in a pile with the adult’s head and tusks placed on top.
The bones were discovered at an open-air slaughter site that included separate areas occluded by walls.
The mammoth bones showed signs of slaughter and fractures from the impact of the sharp force
Most of the remains in the pile belong to an adult, including 44 fractured skull fragments, an intact right upper second molar and 12 isolated dental plates, 25 fractured ribs to 52 fragments, 3 vertebrae and 15 vertebral fissures, and 32 bony cortices. Caused by percussion trauma, 9 ‘butterfly fragments’, 20 unidentified bone fragments, and 267 cysts of ‘small bone scraps’.
In the picture, an illustration of what an adult mammoth looked like
“The adult’s face (canines, maxilla, and partial jaws) is the largest and heaviest object extant and has been placed on top of the bone mound,” reads the study, published in Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution.
She was cut from the skull at the openings, the upper alveoli are broken and empty.
“The calf is represented by a left partial jaw and a partial dentition with intact teeth, three isolated dental lamellas, a left tibial palsy, and 10 rib fragments.”
The study also notes that the separation of the adult facial bones from the skull was due to a “deeper skull fracture”.
Before mammoth bones were found, a 20,000-year-old burial in Montana was the earliest evidence of human settlement in North America.
The discovery adds to mounting evidence of communities before people crossed the Bering Strait’s land bridge about 20,000 years ago. In the picture is a map showing how the land bridge connected the two continents
The study also notes that the separation of the adult facial bones from the skull was due to a “deeper skull fracture”. The picture shows the bones of the animal’s face that contain fractures caused by the impact of sharp force
In 1968, construction workers discovered old 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 that the boy was part of the Clovis culture that came across the land bridge of the Bering Strait.
The so-called Anzick skeleton was found with about 125 artifacts, including Clovis fluted spear heads and tools made of horns, covered in red ocher, a type of mineral.
‘The Clovis Boy family is the direct ancestor of nearly 80% of present-day Native Americans,’ Eske Willerslev of the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, who led the study, said in a statement.
“Despite the disappearance of the Clovis culture, its people live today.”