(Texas A&M University press release and other sources via redOrbit, 21 October 2011) -- A team of researchers, led by a Texas A&M archaeologist, has used a bone point fragment from an ancient mastodon rib to confirm that hunters roamed North America at least 800 years earlier than previously thought, the university said in a Thursday press release. By studying the tip of that fragment, which was found in a mastodon rib from a Washington-based archeological dig, Michael Waters, director of the Center for the Study of the First Americans in the Department of Anthropology at Texas A&M, and his colleagues believe that it proves that humans were present there about 13,800 years ago. That would mean hunters were here some 800 years before the Clovis people.
According to the university, an adult male mastodon was excavated from a pond at a site near Manis, Washington, back in the late 1970s. Broken bones on the creature suggested that it had been killed or butchered by human hunters, Waters said in the media release, but they were unable to recover any stone tools or weapons at the location.
“Waters contacted team member and original excavator, Carl Gustafson, about performing new tests on the rib with the bone point,” the Texas A&M press release said. “New radiocarbon dates confirmed that the site was 13,800 years old. High resolution CT scanning and three-dimensional modeling confirmed that the embedded bone was a spear point, and DNA and bone protein analysis showed that the bone point was made of mastodon bone.”
Sindya N. Bhanoo of the New York Times adds that the CT scanning confirmed that the bone point, embedded within the rib, was a hunting tool that was over 10 inches long and sharpened. Waters and his associates published their findings in the journal Science. Gustafson, an archeologist from Washington State University, reportedly was convinced that humans had hunted and killed the animal, at least partially for food, Eric Berger of the Houston Chronicle reported on Thursday. Few people in his profession believed that humans could have been present in North America long enough ago to have been able to have done the deed.
Posted by Amanda Graham – 21 October 2011; 2:55:14 PM – Permalink
Tagged: News, Polar research: Reports and findings