Tuesday, 23 January, 2018

Humans in America 100000 years earlier than previously thought

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Melissa Porter | 28 April, 2017, 07:50

The discovery of the Cerutti Mastodon near San Diego, California has shocked the archaeological world.

The researchers argue the stones might have been used as hammers and anvils to break the bones apart - meaning tool-users could have been spreading across the planet about six times earlier than we thought.

At the time, sites with evidence of humans in North American were around 14,000 years old.

The team found no traces of human remain at the site. San Diego Natural History MuseumANN ARBOR-An Ice Age paleontological-turned-archaeological site in San Diego preserves 130,000-year-old bones and teeth of a mastodon that show evidence of modification by early humans.

This is published unedited from the IANS feed. "These bones were not broken by carnivore chewing, or by other animals trampling on this bone". Each anvil stone was surrounded by mastodon-bone fragments and flakes of stone, as if someone had been crushing bone on the anvil.

More work needs to be done, and more evidence must be found before we agree to rewrite the books, but it is breathtaking to consider that humans, or possibly Homo erectus, could have been present in America 130,000 years ago.

To begin with, most people have accepted that the first people into the Americas came across the Bering Strait during the last glaciation, which began about 116,000 or 117,000 years ago and finished perhaps 10,000 or 11,000 years ago.

Teeth and bones of the elephant-like creature unmistakably modified by human hands, along with stone hammers and anvils, leave no doubt that some species of early human feasted on its carcass, they reported in the journal Nature. This is very significant, as it predates the (former) earliest evidence of humans in North America by 115,000 years. But extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof - and this is a pretty extraordinary claim.

If they were of another species, it could reshape the way we think about the abilities and history of our long-gone close cousins, said study co-author Richard Fullagar, an archaeologist at the University of Wollongong in Australia.

This Jan. 25, 1993 photo provided by the San Diego Natural History Museum shows a concentration of fossil bone and rock at an excavation site in San Diego, Calif. Remains of other mammals have already been found at the site, although the most interesting are by far those of the mastodon, which include two tusks, 16 ribs, four vertebrae, and over 300 bone fragments.

"This is a pristine site, it has not been disturbed at all by geological processes", said Steven Hollen at the Centre for American Paleolithic Research and a research team member. Uranium-thorium dating puts the bones at 130,000 years old, researchers said.

Beeton conducted field work at the Cerutti Mastodon site, then analyzed and described the soils and sediments at the San Diego Natural History Museum, and conducted further analysis and sample preparation in Adams State University's Earth Sciences Soils Laboratory. "They were not broken by other animals trampling on these bones", he said. Judy Gradwohl, president and chief executive officer of the San Diego Natural History Museum.

The archaeologists say the way those bones were broken tells an important story.

"It's hard for me to get my head around", he said, pointing to the need for more research comparing the San Diego specimens to other confirmed paleolithic sites in Africa and other places.

"Until we find a skeleton, at this site or at a site of a comparable age in the Americas, it's all open to speculation, and we just don't know", said John McNabb, a researcher from the University of Southhampton.