Palaeoloxodon antiquus, or “Straight Tusked Elephants” are distant European cousins of our Mammuthus columbi, and now it appears, with little doubt, that early humans were eating them in England during the Hoxnian interglacial 420,000 years ago. For the sake of easy arithmetic, estimating Clovis as 14,000 years ago, that’s 30 times older than the best confirmed dates for the occupation of North America. These would be pre-Acheulian (you know, the handaxe guys) hominins, i.e., near the end of the people called Homo erectus or possibly heidelbergensis?
From the University of Southampton:
Excavation revealed a deep sequence of deposits containing the elephant remains, along with numerous flint tools and a range of other species such as; wild aurochs, extinct forms of rhinoceros and lion, Barbary macaque, beaver, rabbit, various forms of vole and shrew, and a diverse assemblage of snails. These remains confirm that the deposits date to a warm period of climate around 420,000 years ago, the so-called Hoxnian interglacial, when the climate was probably slightly warmer than the present day.
Dr Wenban-Smith comments: “Although there is no direct evidence of how this particular animal met its end, the discovery of flint tools close to the carcass confirm butchery for its meat, probably by a group of at least four individuals.”
When we think of Pleistocene fauna, we usually think big. The above image was assembled by Roberto Díaz Sibaja on his wonderful blog Palaeos, la historia de la vida en la tierra. I love the fact that he has created, for many of his animal-size related posts, a real scale that nearly all of us can relate to; a human and a Volkswagen Beetle. Look closely at his human silhouette and you can see some attitude hidden there.
Not an archaeology blog but a broader and probably smarter view of the biological world through paleontology and evolution. He covers so many facets of the natural world including many fossil animals from dinosaurs to modern camelids.
Portales Daily News. Note that there was no “Clovis” cultural group yet…\
Click HERE for the pdf, with bonus Coronado article OR link below:
The most recent New Mexico Archaeological Council newsletter is out. this issue focuses on Paleoindian archaeology and includes a short article of recent activities at the Clovis site. Click here to download. If you are a New Mexican, or have an interest in the archaeology of our fine state, consider joining NMAC.
Paleoindian Archaeology in New Mexico
In Memorium: Patrick Culbert
Current Research and Investigations at Blackwater Draw, NM
Recent Research at the Mockingbird Gap Clovis Site
New Finds at the Water Canyon Paleoindian Site
Recent Paleoindian Studies at Spaceport America
Interpreting the Paleoindian Signature of Southeast New Mexico
Late Paleoindian Projectile Point Technology
A couple of months ago, Yevgeny Salinder, an 11 year old Russian boy, discovered a 30,000 year old mammoth thawing from the permafrost in the arctic Krasnoyarsk region. I have been hoping to hear more about this remarkable find but, of course, these things take time.
There is already some important information coming out about this find, including the discovery of large fat storage in the form of a hump on the mammoth’s back, confirming images from the Pleistocene depicting the humped back. Previously the hump in the art work was attributed to large thoracic spines but now it seems to be more camel-like soft tissue. Intact organs should tell us more about the animal and it’s environment than we have known. As the Arctic ice recedes, it seems we will find more and more of these specimens being exposed.
Links to this story can be found here:
A fun, and remarkably good-looking, mammoth sculpture in Bluff, Utah. Set to burn on the solstice to honor the mammoth petroglyphs found nearby. I love Bluff and wish I could get up there for the event.
Study suggests Beringia’s shaggy behemoths went extinct after a slow and gradual decline.
“Why are there no more woolly mammoths? The last isolated island populations of these huge beasts disappeared about 4,000 years ago — well after the Pleistocene extinction that wiped out much of the world’s megafauna — but what triggered their demise remains a frustrating mystery. According to the latest study to contribute to the ongoing debate, the last mammoths disappeared after a long, slow decline in numbers rather than because of a single cause.” Read on.
The Yuka Mammoth. A very interesting and important find from Siberia tells us some harsh facts about its demise. Investigators believe it was taken by a large predator, possibly a lion, then stolen away by humans. ”Even more interesting, there are hints that humans may have taken over the kill at an early stage.”
Tusk and tooth analysis indicate that the mammoth was about two and a half years old when it died. I haven’t seen an academic publication yet but hope to read more about it soon. The dates discussed are tentatively about 10,000 years old, placing the find near the end of our Paleoindian period. Healed wounds on the hide suggest that the young mammoth survived an earlier attack but fresh wounds were likely related to the cause of death. Later cuts on the hide and bones, with the subsequent removal of the skull, ribs, and pelvis are believed to be caused by humans. Hopefully, further investigations with clarify the human interaction.
Soft tissue preservation is rare and will add greatly to our general knowledge of this extinct species. Read the story here.
Below is a great link to learn more about Eurasian mammoths, brought to you by the BBC.