Mammoth Butchered By Lions Then Seized By Humans

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.

The Age of Dogs

Its seems the date of dog domestication keeps being pushed further back in time.  Recent finds in the Altai mountains of Siberia indicate domestication by 33,000 B.P., near the peak of the last ice-age.  The specimen shows paedomophism in the snout, but with large, wolf-like teeth.  Dogs are so important to recent bio-cultural evolution that they are something we shouldn’t leave out of any look at hunter-gatherers.

photo credit: BBC News

There are no dogs reported from the Paleoindian excavations at Blackwater Draw but I suspect we will someday have some evidence of their interaction with the First Americans in the area.  Our excavation bias at the Landmark is that we have primarily a series of kill-sites but little domestic evidence.  I am often asked by the public “why are there no humans buried here?”  What we find are piles of bison, mammoth, pronghorn, etc. but the hunters were not dying here.  If they were, I suspect even then they would be taken away for some sort of mortuary practice.  The dogs, just like their more recent descendants, likely went off to die alone or possibly were eaten and ended up in the trash midden.

Click the photo for the BBC article or copy the link: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-14390679