Discovery suggests humans may have settled North America much earlier than previously thought

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A set of mastodon tusks and a stone-age tool dredged together out of the Chesapeake Bay by fishermen suggest that human could have settled in North America thousands of years before previously thought, according to a controversial new study.

Discovery suggests humans may have settled North America much earlier than previously thought
The tool was made of volcanic rock and had workmanship similar to that found 
in Solutrean tools, which were made in Europe between 17,000 and 22,000 years ago 
[Credit: Dennis Stanford]

The mastodon remains are 22,000 years old, according to radio-carbon dating – up to ten thousand years older than the Clovis culture, thought to be the first settlers in the Western Hemisphere.

Most researchers believe the first humans inhabited North America between 13,000 and 16,500 years ago after crossing the Bering Strait land bridge from Asia.

Despite the incredible claims, much of the archaeological community remains skeptical, Live Science reports.

Discovery suggests humans may have settled North America much earlier than previously thought
Characteristic red staining on the tusk comes from oxidation, which may have occurred
 when the tusk was submerged in a saltwater marsh [Credit: Dennis Stanford]

‘The bottom line is, there simply is no context for these discoveries,’ University of Arizona-Tuscon archaeologist Vance Holliday told the site.

He added: ‘There’s absolutely no DNA evidence.’

Just because the two items were found together, he argues, doesn’t meant that they were from the same time frame. There is no way to prove the flint tool is as old as the mastodon skull, Dr Holliday said.

Discovery suggests humans may have settled North America much earlier than previously thought
The fisherman hacked out the teeth and tusks and gave some out as souvenirs. The finds 
eventually made their way to the Gwynn’s Island Museum in Virginia. The molars suggest
 the mastodon was about 30 years old when it died [Credit: Dennis Stanford]

The incredible archaeological find was discovered in 230 feet of water 60 miles off shore in 1974. Fishermen who were dragging their scalloping nets across the bottom of the bay snagged a massive mastodon skull and dragged it to the surface. Also in the net was a flint knife.

The skull of the giant ice-age beast was too big to carry back to shore, so the crew cut off the tusks and teeth and threw the rest back in the water.

The captain of the boat donated his artifacts to the local Gwynn’s Island Museum in Virginia, where the sat unnoticed for near 40 decades.

Discovery suggests humans may have settled North America much earlier than previously thought
The tool may have been used to butcher an animal — possibly the mastodon found. 
Microstriations and wear shown are typical of tool use.The sharp crisp edges suggest
 it wasn’t tumbled in the surf or carried by water. Either way, the wear on the tool 
suggests it was on dry land at some point and then buried by sea water, which
 means the tool was older than 14,000 years old. That would mean people
 (and possibly migrants from Europe) lived on the Atlantic Coast prior
 to the Clovis culture [Credit: Dennis Stanford]

They were re-discovered by a University of Delaware geologist, who alerted Dennis Stanford, an archaeologist at the Smithsonian Institution.

Dr Stanford believes that the tool shows wear – proof, he says, that it was used before it was submerged in water.

The Chesapeake has been underwater since the last ice age ended 14,000 years ago – meaning the tool is at least 14,000 years old.

Dr Stanford, however, believes it was used to butcher the mastodon, which would make it 22,000 years old, according to Live Science.

Author: Michael Zennie | Source: Mail Online [August 13, 2014]

1 COMMENT

  1. Intriguing, but there is no proof of relationship. I personally believe humans arrived in North America before the currently accepted date, but that is simply an hypothesis 'til proven.

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