Archaeology shocker: Study claims humans reached the Americas 130000 years ago
01:17, Apr 30, 2017
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San Diego Natural History Museum Paleontologist Don Swanson pointing at a rock fragment near a piece of mastodon tusk. "The hypothesis suggests that humans brought these rocks to this site, and they used these rocks to break bone like this".
"When we first discovered the site, there was strong physical evidence that placed humans alongside extinct Ice Age megafauna", said Tom Demere, the museum's curator of paleontology. There are also five hammer stones and anvils that show wear and impact marks, which could have hardly occurred from natural sources. Here's the rub. nearly all previous evidence points to humans arriving in the Americas approximately 20,000 years ago.
The remains were found at the Cerutti Mastodon site, which dates from the early late Pleistocene.
Revisiting the finds, Holen and his team used a type of radiometric dating that relies on gauging the ratio of uranium to thorium in calcium carbonate material. The results he obtained surprised the researchers.
These 130,000-year-old mastodon bones show fracture patterns that could only have been produced by humans, some archaeologists and paleontologists say. I'm not saying they're absolutely wrong and it can not be a human site, but I'd say the jury's still out. Several dating experts said the methods were sound and found the 130,000-year date trustworthy.
During the press briefing, the researchers dismissed suggestions that heavy machinery used during the freeway construction could have broken the bones. "Really any of the hominids around at the time could have broken bones to make tools".
"I just couldn't believe this was happening, but the evidence is right there in front of you", said lead author Steve Holen, director of research at the Center for American Paleolithic Research. Each anvil stone was surrounded by mastodon-bone fragments and flakes of stone, as if someone had been crushing bone on the anvil. This kind of tool use isn't specific to any one human species. The knowledge of such technology would therefore be known to the pre-historic American settlers and would explain why they only focused on the large useful bones. It could not have been the work of carnivorous predators that broke the mastodon's bones.
To assure that the bones were broken from hitting them with rocks, researchers carried out lab experiments to see if the same conditions could be replicated.
An archaeological dig in San Diego in 1992 may have uncovered evidence that humans arrived in North America 130,000 years ago, reports NPR.
"The team's conclusions are paradigm-shifting, and I'm sure they will come under a lot of scrutiny in the coming days and months".
Scientists specialized in various fields, from archaeology to the environment, have done research at the Cerutti site since its discovery.
"What's for certain is archaeologists will now be looking at earlier deposits in North America with closer interest", Pope said. "They have opened up the possibility of a new, astonishing [ly] early and continental-scale episode of hominin [human species] dispersal". The uncertainty over these artifacts is what leads to the controversy regarding the new findings. Very few human remains have been discovered in the USA of human cultures only 13,000 years old and population densities of the early arrivals were extremely low, he added.
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