Hunting in America 800-yrs older than earlier believed

A new study has claimed that hunters were present at least 800 years earlier than Clovis and that the first inhabitants arrived earlier to North America than previously thought.

According to a team of archaeologists at the Texas A and M University, the tip of a bone point fragment found embedded in a mastodon rib from an archaeological site in Washington state shows that hunters were present in North America at least 800 years before Clovis.

Michael Waters, director of the Centre for the Study of the First Americans in the Department of Anthropology at Texas A and M, and colleagues from Colorado, Washington and Denmark believe that the finding at the Manis site in Washington demonstrates that humans were in the area around 13,800 years ago, or 800 years earlier than was previously believed.

According to Waters, in the late 1970s, an adult male mastodon was excavated from a pond at the Manis site and it was found that the distribution of the bones, and the discovery that some of the bones were broken suggested that the elephant had been killed and butchered by human hunters.

However, no stone tools or weapons were found at the site and the key artifact from the site was what appeared to be a bone point sticking out of one of the ribs, but the artifact and the age of the site were disputed.

Waters contacted Carl Gustafson, the original excavator, about performing new tests on the rib with the bone point, and new radiocarbon dates, high resolution CT scanning, three-dimensional modelling confirmed that the site was 13,800 years old and the embedded bone was a spear point.

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The DNA and bone protein analysis showed that the bone point was made of mastodon bone.

“The Manis site is an early kill site,” Waters said.

“The evidence from the Manis site shows that people were hunting mastodons with bone weapons before the Clovis stone spear point,” he said.

The study has been published in the current issue of Science magazine.

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