Mastodon Bones Maybe from Earliest Humans in North America

The discovery of stone tools alongside mastodon bones in a Florida river shows that humans settled the southeastern United States as much as 1,500 years earlier than scientists previously believed, according to a research team led by a Florida State University professor.

The oldest humans living in this region initially known was 1,500 years younger this one, which makes it probably the oldest humans in North America.Scientists have unearthed mastodon bones and stone tools at the bottom of a river in Florida that probably lived back to 14,550 years ago.

According to Jessi Halligan, an assistant professor of anthropology at Florida State University, “This is a big deal.”

“It’s pretty exciting. We thought we knew the answers to how and when we got here, but now the story is changing,” he added.

The bones and tools were found in Aucilla River where divers were sent down the 30-feet deep Page-Ladson site. Over the past four years of the study, they successfully excavated artifacts like bones of extinct animals, a biface (a knife with sharp edges), and a mastodon tusk.

“At Page-Ladson, hunter-gatherers, possibly accompanied by dogs, butchered or scavenged a mastodon carcass at the sinkhole’s edge next to a small pond at ~14,550,” the authors reported.

Researchers believed that the site was once a pond and now became murky water due to a number of reasons like rising sea levels, increasing layers of sediments, and a long time of human civilization.

“These people had successfully adapted to their environment; they knew where to find freshwater, game, plants, raw materials for making tools, and other critical resources for survival.”

Subjecting the artifacts to radiocarbon dating made them discover that these were about 14,550 years old already.

Prior to this discovery, scientists believed that the Clovis people were the first of the few inhabitants of America, which was about 13,000 years ago. And Page-Ladson is the first pre-Clovis site ever discovered in southeastern part of North America.

The Director of Texas A&M’s Center for the study of the first Americans and study author Michael R. Waters said that “The new discoveries at Page-Ladson show that people were living in the Gulf Coast area much earlier than believed.”

The researchers also discovered some stone tools and a mastodon tusk from the same site, but it didn’t make much sense before so they decided to go back in 2012 where they expanded their study.

The study was published in the journal Science Advances.

Source: CNN



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