Mammoths in Corvallis, Oregon

Unless you live under a rock, or are lucky enough to avoid all media, you probably know there is some good and interesting news from Oregon this week.


Loren Davis, an associate professor of anthropology at OSU, was called to the site to examine the find, the university said in a press release.

“There are quite a few bones, and dozens of pieces,” said Davis. “Some of the bones are not in very good shape, but some are actually quite well preserved.”

Davis said there are no human remains at the site. According to OSU, since the find does not appear to involve humans or human artifacts, the bones are not considered part of an archaeological site, nor is the site entitled to any protections under Oregon law.

Davis said the bones were found in an area that could once have been a bog or marsh, and that the discovery of ancient mammal bones is not unusual in the Willamette Valley.

Read the story by clicking HERE or copying the link into your browser.

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Sweet Corn Our Ancestors Would Recognize©

Interesting historical note on a New World staple crop.

Thehistoricfoodie's Blog

Country Gentleman
I’m interested in vegetables, small farm animals, and poultry which have stood the test of time and there are a great many varieties my grandparents knew that are still around. I’ve been particularly interested in Country Gentleman and Stowell’s Evergreen corn. Hugh Findley recommended both varieties for the home gardener in his “Practical Gardening: Vegetables and Fruits”, published in 1918.

Sweet corn began as a mutation in standard field corn which was then improved upon over several generations until a stable variety was produced. Sweet corn was known to Native Americans and documented in the U.S. in the 1770’s.

Country Gentleman is a shoe peg corn meaning the kernels are not in rows on the ear. It was so named because the kernels resembled the wooden pegs used to attach shoe soles. It was introduced in 1890 by S. D. Woodruff & Sons and remains the most popular shoe peg…

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Quick Tips: Archaeological Techniques –Use of Isotopes in Archaeology.

Isotopes in archaeology. Not just a baseball team in Albuquerque.

All Things AAFS!

Isotopic analysis is widely used within the worlds of archaeology and anthropology. From analysing isotopes we’re able to uncover a wide range of information regarding the past; ranging from palaeoenvironments to palaeodiets, and even using isotopes to reconstruct trade routes of materials.

But first, what are isotopes?

All of the chemical elements consist of atoms which are specific to the element and the mass of an atom is dictated by the number of protons and neutrons it contains. The identity of the chemical element depends on the number of protons found within the atom’s nucleus, but the number of neutrons within the atom can vary. Atoms of the same chemical element (same number of protons), but with different masses, which is from the varying amount of neutrons, are called isotopes.

Stone Circle at Drombeg Within nature, most of the elements consist of a number of isotopes. These isotopes can be…

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Upper Paleolithic Tool Kit Essential Skills

Here is a short but excellent video describing through actual production of blade-based lithic tool production.  Watch, learn, and love.

Explicación de los procesos de elaboración de útiles óseos y líticos durante el Paleolítico Superior. Durante el Paleolítico Superior el hombre moderno aprovechó la materia prima, el mismo, para obtener un mayor número y variedad de útiles.

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UF9076–A Complete Skull and Jaws of a Giant Lion (Panthera atrox) Found in the Ichetucknee River, Florida

I can’t get enough of the Panthera clan.


A little over 50 years ago, a lucky fossil hunter found the complete skull and jaws of a giant lion in the Ichetucknee River.  This remarkable specimen was missing just a few teeth.  One can imagine how exciting the moment of discovery was for the person who found it.  This particular skull is from a large male lion, and it is larger than almost every lion skull ever excavated from the La Brea Tar Pits in California.  The specimen belongs to the University of Florida Museum of Natural History, and the catalogue number is UF9076.

Overview map of Ichetucknee SpringLocation of Ichetucknee Spring State Park.  The Ichetucknee River flows through this state park into the Santa Fe River where giant lion specimens have also been found.

The Pleistocene Felidae of Florida - Page 222This is a skull of Panthera atrox found in Florida.  The genus name has been changed since the article in the above photo was published. Fossils of this species are rare…

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Morning Foragers

Winter came slowly and late to the Southern High Plains this year but finally hit us with a bang just over a week ago.  Many birds were killed in the recent blizzard as were large numbers of cattle.  I suspect the large mammals are having a difficult time keeping full on the meager food provided.  The grasses, pinyon,and juniper around the yard provides a much needed browse for our live-in deer herd.


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Wild Squash (Cucurbita sp.) was Abundant during the Pleistocene

“Wild squash evolved bitter poisons known as cucurbitains in their flesh that discouraged seed consumption by rodents. However, large mammals have fewer bitter taste receptors and can consume large quantities of cucurbitains without ill effect. Most squash seeds could survive passage through the gut tract of a megaherbivore and were spread throughout the environment in fertile piles of dung.” Very interesting.


A new study suggests wild squash and megafauna had a long mutually beneficial relationship during the Pleistocene.  Wild squash evolved bitter poisons known as cucurbitains in their flesh that discouraged seed consumption by rodents.  However, large mammals have fewer bitter taste receptors and can consume large quantities of cucurbitains without ill effect.  Most squash seeds could survive passage through the gut tract of a megaherbivore and were spread throughout the environment in fertile piles of dung.  The squash plants thrived in open sunny environments created by megafauna foraging and trampling.  Mammoths, mastodons, and giant ground sloths killed trees by uprooting them or by stripping off the bark.  This opened woodland canopies where squash plants were exposed to direct sunlight.  Trampling and wallowing also killed grass, resulting in bare soil environments where squash plants could germinate with less competition.  In exchange for providing food, wild squash enjoyed a wide and continuous geographic…

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Projectile Points from the Upper Magdalenian; expanding horizons beyond North America

Projectile insets and backed pieces from the Upper Magdalenian of La Madeleine (Tursac, Dordogne, France), new data from lithic technology

Alexis Taylor, in Paleo, Revue d’Archeologie Prehistorique


From a reconstruction, Magdalenian bladelettes in antler spear point.

I never lost interest in the Upper Paleolithic of Europe despite the fact I ended up living half a world away.  The Magdalenian is when things become especially interesting technologically (to me) in Europe.  Have a look at this article (in English even) for some insight into tools from La Madeleine and even some interesting information for the modern knapper who wishes to replicate this ancestral toolkit.  I think, in the rare cases where bone and antler preserve in the New World, we could benefit from looking at this technology as an analog for Clovis.


Stone tool fragments are not the end-all of Upper Paleolithic or Paleoindian technology but a small part of a much wider system for surviving in a complex world.  It is worth looking beyond our constructed borders to learn as much as we can without wearing self-imposed blinders.


Have a look at the rest of this short, but interesting article HERE.

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Pleistocene Megafauna Wallows and Southern Appalachian Bogs

Interesting thoughts ahead, or jump to the associated paper here:


The wallowing, trampling, and foraging of Pleistocene megafauna probably maintained the open character of mountain bogs in the southern Appalachians during the Ice Ages.  Bogs were common natural environments during moist interstadials when cool temperatures reduced evapotranspiration rates and total precipitation increased.  Bogs occurred near the headwaters of mountains rivers and upper piedmont streams on flat poorly drained sites.  Boggy communities were “embedded” in mixed forests of pine, spruce, oak, and beech; and they provided a diverse array of habitats for wildlife.  Beavers created some bogs by damming streams.  The backwaters flooded depressions created by the wallowing activities of mastodons, horses, bison, peccaries, and possibly the extinct stag-moose (Cervalces scotti).  Scientists don’t know whether Cervalces scotti wallowed or not–some species of deer such as the present day moose wallow while other species do not.  Abandoned beaver ponds succeed to wet meadow communities consisting of herbs, grass, and sedge; thus…

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Failed in Production

Here’s a closer look at a Clovis point that appears to have failed in production.  It looks like it was carried around and used as a general cutting tool in it’s second life-cycle then dropped near a mammoth kill.  Beautiful material and we aren’t quite sure of the source.

DSC_0161This one would have been on the large side for a spear point in our area.  The long flute may hint at it’s demise.

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Large Pleistocene Carnivores Kept Megaherbivore Populations in Check


A brand new study suggests large packs of big carnivores kept populations of megaherbivores in check during the Pleistocene.  This finding seems like a no-brainer, but some paleoecologists believe megaherbivores suffered little mortality attributable to predation and were instead limited by the availability of plant resources.  The results of this study imply that large carnivore predation of megaherbivores was beneficial for the environment as a whole.  Lowering the overall population of megaherbivores prevented the landscape from being denuded and protected vegetated habitats for birds and other small animals.

The authors of this study compared tooth size and shoulder height between large Pleistocene carnivores and modern carnivores.  They determined that Pleistocene carnivores were on average 50%-100% larger than modern day carnivores.  This greater size gave them the ability to better prey on megaherbivores.  Even though these carnivores were larger, they likely needed to hunt in packs to take down such megaherbivores as…

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2015 Atlatl Day at Blackwater Draw

It’s been seven years since this fell on Halloween and it was great to see people dress in costume to come out; especially the little kids.

DSC_0001 (12)

Thanks to all who attended and supported the Mu Alpha Nu Atlatl Day again this year.  The weather was absolutely perfect.  A big thank you goes to Aaron, Lincoln, Trish, Laura, Becky, Mara, and the rest of the club whom I’m forgetting this morning, for picking up the slack and getting things together in a hurry.  Corey, as usual, handled the office and business end of things during the competition.  Overall, attendance was only slightly down due more to some specific conflicts of date rather than the late advertising.  We missed the enormous group that often comes from NMMI and a couple of the groups from the central valley that have participated in the past.  It is a very long drive.

There were 76 people at the pavilion area at the beginning of the contest and a mid-day car count was 46.  We think (it’s hard to keep track) that we had about 150 total throughout the day.  Aaron counted a total of 35 competitors signed in with a LOT more small children than we have ever had in the past.  We may need to make a contingency course for them in future.

We owe a debt gratitude to Tommy Heflin again for providing some pretty exciting prizes in the form of signed replica Clovis points he made specifically for the event.  He and his wife, Joletha, decided to go forward with the annual pig and turkey roast at their amazing house, again at their own expense.  He is the only person who has attended every one of these since before they were even an official event back in the late 90s.

I sincerely hope that Mu Alpha Nu ATLATL DAY at BLACKWATER DRAW continues as a student led, club event.  It was a lot to handle this year but everything, down to the weather came out perfectly.  Thank you again to everyone who helped make this happen, against some mysterious and ridiculous resistance from unexpected quarters.  I believe it was a great time for everyone who participated and we received many personal “thanks” from community members.

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