by Staff Writers
Copenhagen, Denmark (SPX) Oct 25, 2011
A new and astonishing chapter has been added to North American prehistory in regards to the first hunters and their hunt for the now extinct giant mammoth-like creatures - the mastodons.
Professor Eske Willerslev's team from the Centre for GeoGenetics, University of Copenhagen, has in collaboration with Michael Waters' team at the Center for the Study of the First Americans, University of Texas A and M, shown that the hunt for large mammals occurred at least 1,000 years before previously assumed.
This new study concludes that the first-known hunters in North America can now be dated back at least 14,000 years. The results are published in the internationally renowned scientific journal Science.
"I am sure that especially the Native Americans are pleased with the results of the study. It is further proof that humans have been present in North America for longer than previously believed.
The "Clovis First" theory, which many scientists swore to just a few years back, has finally been buried with the conclusions of this study," says Professor Eske Willerslev, director of the Centre for GeoGenetics at the Natural History Museum of Denmark, University of Copenhagen.
Spearhead found in mastodon
However, 30 years would pass before a team of researchers was able to put a date on the spearhead and establish the identity of both the bone and the spearhead that had been embedded into the rib of the defeated mastodon.
This was done through, amongst other things, DNA analysis, protein sequencing, advanced computer technology, Carbon-14 dating as well as comparisons with other mastodon findings in North America, for instance in the state of Wisconsin.
Clovis culture challenged
"Our research now shows that other hunters were present at least 1,000 years prior to the Clovis culture. Therefore, it was not a sudden war or a quick slaughtering of the mastodons by the Clovis culture, which made the species disappear. We can now conclude that the hunt for the animals stretched out over a much longer period of time.
"At this time, however, we do not know if it was the man-made hunt for the mastodons, mammoths and other large animals from the so-called mega-fauna, which caused them to become extinct and disappear. Maybe the reason was something complete different, for instance the climate," states Professor Eske Willerslev.
The Road to America
Professor Eske Willerslev has been able to add a new chapter to North American prehistory by mapping the now first-known hunters in this part of the world.
The results are published in the internationally renowned scientific journal Science.
University of Copenhagen
All About Human Beings and How We Got To Be Here
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