Humans in California 130000 years ago? Bold study says it's possible

Jaw-Dropping Study Says Some Human Relative Was in California 130000 Years Ago

Erstwhile claims have said that the earliest human beings in the Americas were extant 15,000 years ago. "I was skeptical myself", he says.

Without the benefit of actual human remains, however, the dramatic departure from the accepted timeline may not convince all scientists in the field.

"If it does turn out to be true it changes absolutely everything", said John McNabb of the University of South Hampton. What if the real date is much earlier? "It's a really big ask".

"When we eliminate all the other natural processes and we can reproduce this experiment, we have very strong evidence", he said. The animal's limb bones, molars and tusks had been smashed into many pieces.

The search for follow-up evidence may, in fact, have already been dug up.

"This discovery is rewriting our understanding of when humans reached the New World", said Judy Gradwohl, president of the San Diego Natural History Museum, whose paleontology team discovered the fossils. And the bones and stones were found in two areas, each roughly centered on what's thought to be an anvil.

That odd, selective destruction is a sign that humans were there, targeting the thick bones and tusks that could be shaped into new tools, the study authors said. The rocks fit together, but researchers can't say for sure if they were broken apart to be used as tools.

But that wasn't all that they found.

"There's no doubt in my mind this is an archaeological site", said Steve Holen, director of research at the Center for American Paleolithic Research, former curator of archaeology at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, and the lead author of the paper. The patterns of breakage were eerily familiar to those he'd seen at the sites he'd studied in the Great Plains. And if we do find that evidence, you can expect the debate to be fierce. But whether it's a site with human interaction, that's where the question marks start coming up.

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The prehistoric butchery, he determined, took place 130,000 years ago, give or take 9,400 years, and was may have sought to extract nutritious marrow.

Sites with evidence of humans in North America are typically around 14,000 years old. Recently, some scientists have begun to argue that humans may have entered well before that, around 30,000 to 40,000 years ago - though who they may have been and whether they could have established a lasting population remains up for debate.

Archaeologists found new evidence that suggests the possibility of ancient hominids living in the state of California at least 130,000 years ago.

Whoever they were, they could have arrived by land or sea.

"Once I realized in my mind how old this site was, I could not believe that humans were here at that time", Holen said.

UM paleontologist Daniel Fisher, a co-author of the Nature paper, said several lines of evidence from the Cerutti Mastodon site point to "one interpretation that is nearly unavoidable because of the way these different lines of argument interlace".

The San Diego site, they add "is, to our knowledge, the oldest in situ, well-documented archaeological site in North America and, as such, substantially revises the timing of the arrival of Homo into the Americas". So these humans either crossed earlier, or made some portion of the journey by boat. Experts point to several curiosities about the dig site.

Population densities would have likely been quite low at that time, perhaps too low to maintain a large enough breeding population to survive. It means tool-users were all over the planet when modern humans were just leaving Africa. Also, radioactive dating now shows the bones are about 130,000 years old. The animal was a distant and long-gone relative of elephants. "We have had to toil over years to make sure we have considered every angle".

"The evidence from the Cerutti Mastodon site has been rigorously researched and presented, and might be more hard to refute, even though the proposed hominin narrative derived from these data has some gaping holes that need filling", Erella Hovers, an archaeologist at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, writes in a commentary on the study. Are they part of an early - but failed - colonisation attempt?

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