Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

First North American hunters 1,000 years earlier than previously thought, speared mastodon fossil shows

Date:
October 21, 2011
Source:
University of Copenhagen
Summary:
A new and astonishing chapter has been added to North American prehistory in regards to the first hunters and their hunt for the now extinct giant mammoth-like creatures -- the mastodons. New research has shown that the hunt for large mammals occurred at least 1,000 years before previously assumed.

A mastodon rib with the embedded bone projectile point. (A) Closeup view. (B) Reconstruction showing the bone point with the broken tip. The thin layer represents the exterior of the rib. (C) CT X-ray showing the long shaft of the point from the exterior to the interior of the rib. (D) The entire rib fragment with the embedded bone projectile point.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of Copenhagen

A new and astonishing chapter has been added to North American prehistory in regards to the first hunters and their hunt for the now extinct giant mammoth-like creatures -- the mastodons. Professor Eske Willerslev's team from the Centre for GeoGenetics, University of Copenhagen, has in collaboration with Michael Waters' team at the Center for the Study of the First Americans, University of Texas A&M, shown that the hunt for large mammals occurred at least 1,000 years before previously assumed.

This new study concludes that the first-known hunters in North America can now be dated back at least 14,000 years.

"I am sure that especially the Native Americans are pleased with the results of the study. It is further proof that humans have been present in North America for longer than previously believed. The "Clovis First" theory, which many scientists swore to just a few years back, has finally been buried with the conclusions of this study," says Professor Eske Willerslev, director of the Centre for GeoGenetics at the Natural History Museum of Denmark, University of Copenhagen.

Spearhead found in mastodon

It is the finding and analysis of a tip from a human-made projectile point (spearhead) gathered from the remains of a mastodon that is behind the rewriting of North American prehistory. The spearhead, which itself was carved out from a mastodon-bone, was found at the Manis site in the state of Washington when archaeologists excavated a mastodon in the late 1970s.

However, 30 years would pass before a team of researchers was able to put a date on the spearhead and establish the identity of both the bone and the spearhead that had been embedded into the rib of the defeated mastodon. This was done through, amongst other things, DNA analysis, protein sequencing, advanced computer technology, Carbon-14 dating as well as comparisons with other mastodon findings in North America, for instance in the state of Wisconsin.

Clovis culture challenged

The first traces of the hunt for mastodons in North America have previously been attributed the so-called Clovis culture. Clovis culture dates back approximately 13,000 years and is viewed as a type of common culture ancestral for all Native American tribes in North America.

"Our research now shows that other hunters were present at least 1,000 years prior to the Clovis culture. Therefore, it was not a sudden war or a quick slaughtering of the mastodons by the Clovis culture, which made the species disappear. We can now conclude that the hunt for the animals stretched out over a much longer period of time. At this time, however, we do not know if it was the man-made hunt for the mastodons, mammoths and other large animals from the so-called mega-fauna, which caused them to become extinct and disappear. Maybe the reason was something complete different, for instance the climate," states Professor Eske Willerslev.

The Road to America

It is no more than three years ago that Eske Willerslev and his research team established that the first traces of humans in North America are approximately 14,340 years old, and that the current Native Americans in the USA are descendants of these migrants who came from Asia. This was done using Carbon-14 dating and DNA analysis of human remains found in caves in the state of Oregon.

Professor Eske Willerslev has been able to add a new chapter to North American prehistory by mapping the now first-known hunters in this part of the world.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Copenhagen. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. A. Lawler. Pre-Clovis Mastodon Hunters Make a Point. Science, 2011; 334 (6054): 302 DOI: 10.1126/science.334.6054.302

Cite This Page:

University of Copenhagen. "First North American hunters 1,000 years earlier than previously thought, speared mastodon fossil shows." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 October 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111020145054.htm>.
University of Copenhagen. (2011, October 21). First North American hunters 1,000 years earlier than previously thought, speared mastodon fossil shows. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111020145054.htm
University of Copenhagen. "First North American hunters 1,000 years earlier than previously thought, speared mastodon fossil shows." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111020145054.htm (accessed July 24, 2014).

Share This




More Fossils & Ruins News

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Mint Gives JFK Coin a Face-Lift

Mint Gives JFK Coin a Face-Lift

AP (July 24, 2014) The U.S. Mint has re-designed the John F. Kennedy half dollar coin to better match the former president's likeness. (July 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: MD Church Built in 1773 Ravaged by Fire

Raw: MD Church Built in 1773 Ravaged by Fire

AP (July 22, 2014) Authorities say a 241-year-old church on the National Register of Historic Places has been ravaged by fire in Maryland. (July 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Neil Armstrong's Post-Apollo 11 Life

Neil Armstrong's Post-Apollo 11 Life

Newsy (July 19, 2014) Neil Armstrong gained international fame after becoming the first man to walk on the moon in 1969. But what was his life like after the historic trip? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
A Centuries' Old British Tradition Is Far from a Swan Song

A Centuries' Old British Tradition Is Far from a Swan Song

AFP (July 19, 2014) As if it weren't enough that the Queen is the Sovereign of the UK and 15 other Commonwealth realms, she is also the owner of all Britain's unmarked swans. Duration: 02:18 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

More Coverage


Hunters Present in North America at Least 800 Years Earlier Than Previously Thought

Oct. 20, 2011 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, ... read more
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

    Health News

      Environment News

        Technology News



          Save/Print:
          Share:

          Free Subscriptions


          Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

          Get Social & Mobile


          Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

          Have Feedback?


          Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
          Mobile: iPhone Android Web
          Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
          Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
          Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins