Some Pretty Old Americans

Reply Mon 16 May, 2016 12:26 pm
America just got a bit older.

Tools and bones add to evidence of pre-Clovis humans in America
By Emma Marris, Nature magazine on May 16, 2016

Scuba-diving archaeologists have unearthed artefacts from an ancient butchering site that seem to settle a debate about when humans spread across the Americas.

Working in the murk of a river in Florida, the team found stone tools dating back 14,550 years that could have been used to carve up ancient elephant-like beasts called mastodons, whose remains have been recovered from the same site.

The findings, published today in Science Advances, add to ever-growing evidence that humans were living in much of the Americas well before the cultural group known as Clovis were present about 13,000 years ago. The alternative theory — that the Clovis group were the first Americans — has been increasingly disputed.

“I think this paper is a triumph for underwater archaeology and yet another nail in the coffin of the Clovis-first theory,” says Jon Erlandson, an anthropologist at the University of Oregon in Eugene.
In addition, a mastodon tusk of the same age found at the site years ago by another team shows clear marks that the researchers attributed to efforts by people to remove the tusk from the head. Daniel Fisher, a palaeontologist at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and an author of the latest study, reanalysed the tusk and agrees that the marks were probably caused by butchering, most likely to extract the roughly 7 kilograms of nutritious tissue that would have been found inside.

Fisher and his team also looked for evidence of large animals by examining the sediment in the old pond for spores of Sporormiella, a fungus that lives on the dung of herbivores. Researchers have suggested that human hunting might have quickly driven animals such as the mastodon to extinction, but the spores were most abundant 13,700 years ago and did not disappear until around 12,600 years ago. This suggests that people were living with these large animals for a few thousand years before the animals went extinct.

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Reply Mon 16 May, 2016 12:46 pm
Mastodons were found at the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles (my home town) too, but they didn't have the greater findings that this team found.
Fascinating anyway. http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/quaternary/labrea.html

And big congratulations to those participating in this recent team working in Florida, wonderful to read.
Reply Mon 16 May, 2016 01:34 pm
Even 20 years ago, many researchers were complaining about how grants to continue digging were being denied by what they called the "Clovis Mafia". Ancient settlements are frequently located on top of other settlements-if one culture fails or moves on, other cultures that later arise are likely to find the same spots a good place to build on as the previous culture, (advantageous rivers, etc).

In more than one case, the researchers were digging and found an ancient culture, then a more ancient culture underneath it, then when they applied for a grant to keep digging further down, it was denied because the second culture they found was about 11,000 years old or so, and since that's the earliest that anybody had been in America, (according to the Clovis-is-the-oldest hypothesis), there's no use to keep digging.
Reply Mon 16 May, 2016 03:14 pm
Nice case of confirmation bias.
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Reply Mon 16 May, 2016 03:15 pm
Amazing. They found dozens of dire wolves in that tar pit.
Reply Mon 16 May, 2016 04:12 pm
I had to look up dire wolves.. great name for them. Wiki was pretty good on the LB Tar Pits. Makes me wonder.. if our County Art Museum still has fossils under it. Presumably they checked it out before the excavation for it. Part of my wondering is because of what happened to the mammoth, Zed. That didn't seem all that careful.

Los Angelenos aren't all that crazy about the museum. At least my contemporaries weren't that fond of it compared to other museums, but it's a bit of a sentimental place for me, my early learning. It's where I saw the Keinholz Car, that is, Back Seat Dodge '38, with my first boyfriend..


edit - I also had to look up what BP meant to archeologists (years before the present). I think I might have liked archeology. I know our early a2ker, littlek, liked it, and I'm pretty sure farmerman does. Think Walter Hinteler does. Probably I'm forgetting some names.
Reply Mon 16 May, 2016 07:23 pm
This is the Page-Ladson site near Tallahassee. Theyve been working on this site for years but only recently have they finally gotten the data from C14 that was a "slam dunk" on age. This submerged cave system was occupiied when the se level was several hundred feet lower and the Pqge site would have been over 150 miles from the gulf.
These guys were diving into areas where there were piles of Mastodon doo doo and apparently there was a knife blade that was beneath the mastodon turds so (superposition means that the knife preceeded the turds). They will be publishing some more methods papers to clear up how they did their "clean ups" to prevent cross contamination and false dates. (usually though, such contamination would make the samples appear younger).
There was a biit of controversy whether there were any cut marks in the mastodon and the paleoanatomy guys said that the cut marks on a femur were consistent with cutting through some muscle attachment areas in order to make some "rump roasts"

Theres a couple other sites out in Oregon and Washington an the Channel Islands off Calif. that, even though theyve been working on them for years, they still dont have any really convincing date candidate artifacts or midden material. However, some of these workers say that humans were in the AMericas as early as 18500 ybp.

Im amazed that, at the Page Ladon site, they kept from publishing (except for a few methods papaers) the actual significance of age data. Who says scientiists arent patient?
Reply Mon 16 May, 2016 07:30 pm
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Reply Mon 16 May, 2016 07:33 pm
That was silly of me showing that art by Keinholz, but also not. It's a mirror of our society's roam over a place of the ages. That area with the Tar Pits and Art Museum isn't all that large.
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