The butchered remains of a woolly mammoth imply that humans lived in Siberia about 45,000 years ago – which is a lot earlier than researchers previously thought (30,000 to 35,000 years) – according to a new study.
Vladimir Pitulko, co-lead researcher on the study and a senior research scientist at the Russian Academy of Sciences, said that the newfound mammoth carcass is evidence that the area was inhabited 45,000 years ago.
In 2012, a team of researchers found that almost complete carcass of a woolly mammoth on the shore of Yenisei Bay, in the central Siberian Arctic. According to them, the extreme cold weather helped preserve even some of the mammoth’s soft tissue.
The male mammoth likely suffered a violent death, judging by the injuries left on the animal’s right tusk, ribs, cheekbone, and left shoulder bone, the researchers said. Thrusting spears also left punctures and dents on some of the bones. Pitulko said that the injuries clearly led to the animal’s death, which was afterward partly butchered.
In the new study – published Thursday (Jan. 14) in the journal Science – the researchers used radiocarbon dating on the mammoth’s tibia and found that it dated back 45,000 years. Radiocarbon dating is a technique that measures the amount of carbon-14 – a radioactive isotope of carbon – left on the remains of a once-living organism. It can successfully date materials that are up to 50,000 years old.
A Pleistocene wolf humerus that dates to about 47,000 years ago was also discovered in Arctic Siberia, according to Pitulko. The wolf bone presented injuries similar to the mammoth bones, the researchers said.
The wolf bone was found near the bones of ancient reindeer, bison, and rhinoceros. All of those remains had evidence of human involvement. Pitulko said in a statement that the findings show that ancient humans ate a variety of animals, and not just woolly mammoths. The advanced and complex hunting skills of ancient humans may have helped them survive the harsh conditions of the Arctic, the team of researchers suggested.
Ross MacPhee, a curator of mammalogy at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, said that the multiple wounds on the mammoth’s bones clearly indicate that they were caused by humans.
Image Source: l1.yimg
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