A fragment of sharpened bone found embedded in a mastodon rib from an archaeological site in Washington State proves hunter humans were present in North America at least 800 years before previously supposed.
The discovery, made by a team of researchers from Texas A&M University, shows humans were in northwest America around 13,800 years ago, 800 years earlier than was previously believed.
The remains of an adult male mastodon were excavated from a site in Manis, Washington in the late 1970s. It was immediately evident the elephant had been killed by human hunters, however the age of both the bone weapon fragment and the site were disputed.
New radiocarbon dating tests have uncovered that the weapon and site are both around 13,800 years old.
The discovery has reshaped scientific understanding of the earliest inhabitants of the Americas, which is believed to be the last continent to be occupied by humans. The findings also support current extinction theories that hold that large mammals, including the mastodon, became extinct in North America at the end of the last Ice Age.Read more at Texas A&M University