Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Evidence of Human Activity in Southern California Dating to 130,000 years ago!

A report just published in Nature on April 27, 2017 suggests discovery of evidence of human activity in southern California dating to 130,000 years ago.  The evidence consists of mastadon bones that bear marks suggesting processing with stone tools, along with what appear to be hammerstones and anvils). 

"The CM [Cerutti Mastadon] site contains spiral-fractured bone and molar fragments, indicating that breakage occured while fresh. Several of these fragments also preserve evidence of percussion. The occurrence and distribution of bone, molar and stone refits suggest that breakage occurred at the site of burial. Five large cobbles (hammerstones and anvils) in the CM bone bed display use-wear and impact marks, and are hydraulically anomalous relative to the low-energy context of the enclosing sandy silt stratum. 230Th/U radiometric analysis of multiple bone specimens using diffusion–adsorption–decay dating models indicates a burial date of 130.7 ± 9.4 thousand years ago. These findings confirm the presence of an unidentified species of Homo at the CM site during the last interglacial period (MIS 5e; early late Pleistocene), indicating that humans with manual dexterity and the experiential knowledge to use hammerstones and anvils processed mastodon limb bones for marrow extraction and/or raw material for tool production."

Note that if this site does indeed represent evidence of human occupation of north America 130,000 years ago, the people were hunting and processing mastadons, animals that stood 7-9 feet tall and weighed ~7 tons.  Imagine the amount of meat and fat obtained from just one of those animals.  Hunting would have been high risk, but very very high reward. 

The following video presents some of the evidence and its strengths and weaknesses.

No comments: