Humans in America 100000 years earlier than previously thought
30 April, 2017, 01:11 | Author: Archie Newman
Some of the Mastodon bones found at the excavation site are seen in an image release April 26, 2017, by the San Diego Museum of Natural History.
They include Homo erectus, whose earliest traces date back almost two million years;Neanderthals, who fought and co-mingled with modern humans across Europe before dying out some 40,000 years ago; and an enigmatic species called Denisovans, whose DNA survives today in Australian aboriginals.
The study is considered controversial among scientists, according to the Nature journal, largely because it "would force a dramatic rethink of when and how the Americas were first settled - and by who". And a new paper based on work done at the San Diego Natural History Museum suggests a whole new set of ideas about when people might have been in the Americas. "This was significant in and of itself and a "first" in San Diego County", saidTom Deméré, curator of paleontology and director of PaleoServices at the San Diego Natural History Museum and corresponding author on the paper. "Since the original discovery, dating technology has advanced to enable us to confirm with further certainty that early humans were here significantly earlier than commonly accepted".
Since its initial discovery in late 1992, the Cerutti Mastodon site has been the subject of research by top scientists to date the fossils accurately and evaluate microscopic damage on bones and rocks that authors now consider indicative of human activity.
A U.S. geologist, James Paces, starting in 2014 used a uranium-linked dating method that has helped the scientists determine that the activity on the mastodon bones took place about 130,000 years ago. Scientists including co-author James Paces with the US Geological Survey were able to date the bones in 2014 by measuring trace amounts of uranium in the bones.
The finding poses a lot more questions than answers. Richard Fullagar of the University of Wollongong, Australia, confirmed stones found at the San Diego site showed the same wear marks as stones used as tools in other sites.
It was a tidy theory, but one that's now in upheaval as more and more evidence has surfaced that humans must have come sooner, and over water.
Common wisdom holds that the first Americans didn't arrive until 13,000 years ago in what's called the Clovis culture, named after a site in New Mexico where distinctive stone tools were found in the 1920s.
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"How did these early hominins get here? 130,000 years ago", Deméré said.
The prehistoric butchery, he determined, took place 130,000 years ago, give or take 9,400 years, and was may have sought to extract nutritious marrow. It's also possible that they took to the sea in boats. These were modern humans-Homo sapiens-that probably crossed from Siberia into what is today Alaska, by land or along the coast. But instead of just showing the typical patterns of decay that bones exhibit over time, numerous fragments appeared to have been fractured shortly after the animal died.
Until recently, the oldest records of human sites in North America generally accepted by archaeologists were about 14,000 years old. Scale bars - 5cm (a), 2cm (b, g, h), 1mm (c, i), 2mm (d), 10cm (e, f).
The study claims the pattern of broken bones as well as chips of bone that were smashed off the larger pieces prove something human must have smashed them.
"We are making a claim that's kind of out there", acknowledges study co-author Daniel Fisher of the University of MI.
More research still needs to be done but it looks like we might be rewriting the history books folks.
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