Throughout its history, Man has left behind several clues to his presence and activities, such as carved stone tools. However, does the absence of such tools mean that Man was not present in a territory? The discovery of traces of butchery on mammoths in America indicates that our species was present on this continent as early as 37,000 years ago.
The presence of thehuman life on the New Continent is generally estimated by thanks to the identification of remains of lithic industry. The oldest traces of an elaborate lithic industry in Europe date back to the Upper Palaeolithic revolution, around 45,000 years ago. This was then propagated in Siberia as well as in Asia, to finally be brought to America about 16,000 years ago. However, the date of introduction of such tools in America is widely associated by archaeologists with that, also, of the arrival of the human species on this continent. However, this last point has just been called into question by an international research team, which publishes .
The authors of this study describe their discovery of the remains ofat the locality of Hartley, located on the Colorado Plateau, in northern New Mexico. The remains consist in particular of a – which was already outcropping on the site -, ribs, a vertebrae and a mammoth jaw that belong to an adult female and her young.
Traces of butchery
Obsidian Clovis points, which are man-made projectiles, were also found at the site. The Hartley site had previously been identified as a probable butchery site, but the authors indicate that the remains ofcould be prior to the presence of the projectiles. The and the bones of as well as the tusks are arranged on top of the pile.
The analysis ofcontained in one of the mammoth bones reveals that the specimen dates from around 37,000 years ago. The skull of the adult female traces of fractures caused by repeated impacts, characteristic of gestures carried out in order to break the bone to gain access to the and other soft tissues in the skull. Moreover, the diameter of perforations on several bones suggests that these were not caused by canines of but rather by tools. Short, wide, parallel marks on a rib are otherwise consistent with the use of coarse butchery tools and suggest that the ribs were systematically detached from the rib. mammoths. The disarticulation of the vertebrae as well as their perforation was also probably carried out in order to extract the fat more easily.
The authors finally indicate that the presence of traces of butchery and human activity in America 37,000 years ago is in agreement with the hypothesis according to which two distinct human groups colonized the Americas: one before the last glacial maximum ( -31,000 years ago) and the other about 16,000 years ago.