45,000 Year Old Mammoth Calls Human History into Question

45,000 year old mammothThe discovery of a 45,000 year old mammoth is calling human history into question, by suggesting that the Arctic region was populated far earlier than previously thought.

According to a study featured on Thursday, January 14 in the journal Science, the remains of the woolly mammoth had been trapped under heavy icy sediment in a cliff overlooking the eastern side of the Yenisei Bay, in central Siberia.

Upon retrieving it from its frozen confines, researchers examined it thoroughly and came to a striking conclusion: the animal had died after being hunted by human beings approximately 45,000 years ago.

This can easily be proven by the fact that the rib cage of the carcass exhibits wounds corresponding to hunters’ spears, forged out of ivory or stone.

Similarly, the animal’s cheeks and shoulders show signs of trauma similar to that caused by a hand-held shaft, while portions of the right side tusk clearly appear to have been hacked with an axe or a similar tool.

The reason why it’s so mind-blowing that the woolly mammoth was indeed harvested by humans is because it had long been believed that the Arctic was first inhabited just around 30,000 years ago.

And yet this fossil which is approximately 15,000 years older, dating back from the last stages of the Pleistocene epoch, clearly pertains to an animal that was successfully hunted by our early ancestors.

As a result, as explained by Vladimir Pitulko, archaeologist at the Institute for the History of Material Culture (affiliated with the Russian Academy of Sciences), it seems that human history may now have to be rewritten.

According to Pitulko, early Homo Sapiens ventured into inhospitable Arctic regions, situated around 70 degrees north from the equator, at least 45,000 years ago, and owed much of their survival to woolly mammoths.

This extinct species, considered to be one of the precursors of modern-day elephants, probably dwarfed its other neighbors, reaching heights of up to 11 feet, and weighing more than 13,000 pounds.

Given these gargantuan proportions, the animals were a prized hunting trophy, almost every part of their body being put to good use by hunters.

More precisely, their meat, bone marrow and fat were considered vital sources of nourishment, while their dry manure, coupled with their bones and fat were converted into biofuel, used for heating homes or cooking.

Similarly, bones and tusks were used in order to fashion tools and weapons, or as construction material, especially since the steppe had very few trees, and ivory therefore served as an adequate replacement for wood, when building dwellings and other essential structures.

Following this astounding discovery, researchers are now examining more carefully what the Arctic’s early colonization must have entailed.

According to Pitulko, it may be that if human beings reached northernmost polar regions much sooner than prior evidence had suggested, they also managed to explored the North American continent much longer ago.

The scientific consensus has been that the first first Homo Sapiens to have wandered into Alaska probably succeeded in doing that around 15,000 years ago, back when Asia and North America were linked via a land bridge extending for hundreds of miles across the Bering Strait.

It may be that this unprecedented migration actually took place at an earlier date than history books currently specify, and that Native American populations spread across the continent in much more ancient times.

Image Source: Flickr

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