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Earth Science

New Study Suggests Humans Lived In North America 130,000 Years Ago (npr.org) 239

An anonymous reader writes: In 1992, archaeologists working a highway construction site in San Diego County found the partial skeleton of a mastodon, an elephant-like animal now extinct. Mastodon skeletons aren't so unusual, but there was other strange stuff with it. "The remains were in association with a number of sharply broken rocks and broken bones," says Tom Demere, a paleontologist at the San Diego Natural History Museum. He says the rocks showed clear marks of having been used as hammers and an anvil. And some of the mastodon bones as well as a tooth showed fractures characteristic of being whacked, apparently with those stones. It looked like the work of humans. Yet there were no cut marks on the bones showing that the animal was butchered for meat. Demere thinks these people were after something else. "The suggestion is that this site is strictly for breaking bone," Demere says, "to produce blank material, raw material to make bone tools or to extract marrow." Marrow is a rich source of fatty calories. The scientists knew they'd uncovered something rare. But they didn't realize just how rare for years, until they got a reliable date on how old the bones were by using a uranium-thorium dating technology that didn't exist in the 1990s. The bones were 130,000 years old. That's a jaw-dropping date, as other evidence shows that the earliest humans got to the Americas about 15,000 to 20,000 years ago. The study has been published in the journal Nature.
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New Study Suggests Humans Lived In North America 130,000 Years Ago

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  • source (Score:5, Informative)

    by planckscale ( 579258 ) on Wednesday April 26, 2017 @08:38PM (#54310177) Journal
    Paper here http://nature.com/articles/doi... [nature.com] also, would not be surprised if humanoids made it to North America several times prior to 130,000 years considering they've been around since about a million years - that's a lot of time to find your way out of Africa to a different continent by one means or another.
    • Paper here http://nature.com/articles/doi [nature.com]... [nature.com] also,

      here [sci-hub.io], if you don't have access to Nature (which I don't).

  • I'm about a quarter of the way through the book: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

    Interesting in the same way as Worlds in Collision (Velikovsky): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

    Maybe history isn't what we think it is.

    • Interesting like a thoroughly terrible [wikipedia.org]
        Hollywood summer blockbuster, completely devoid of any connection to real-world physics, mathematics, history, or even simple logic and basic causality?

      Sure, why not? I mean, the Da Vinci Code was also pretty popular.

      • by MrKaos ( 858439 )

        completely devoid of any connection to real-world physics, mathematics, history, or even simple logic and basic causality?

        That would depend on if you know how old the human race actually is instead of assuming you do.

    • Interesting in the same way as Worlds in Collision (Velikovsky):

      And by interesting, you mean, "totally fucking bonkers".

    • I think it was Sagan who remarked that astronomers and physicists regarded Velikovsky's theories of recent Solar System catastrophes as pseudoscience but that the man had some interesting insights into the ancient world. Scholars of the antiquities, however, thought that his theories of catastrophes in the recent Solar System made for interesting reading, but that his chronologies and interpretations of ancient writings were stark-raving bonkers.

      Velikovsky's bizarre account of the planet Venus ejected f

      • One thing that I got out of WIC was the imagining of how major celestial events would appear to ancient people. How they might look and be interpreted.

        FWIW it might be that kind of thinking was more common in the appropriate circles back then, but, in my case, reading the book is when I first started wondering about it. And then I started seeing more and more hypotheses and theories on how the Earth-Moon system was formed, f'rinstance, and used for other catastrophic and/or chaotic events.

    • did you read this part of the link for Fingerprints of the Gods ... "Members of the scholarly and scientific community have described the proposals put forward in the book as pseudoscience and pseudoarchaeology"

      And Carl Sagan didn't have much positive to say about the second one
    • When I heard the announcement I thought of "Forbidden Archeology: The Hidden History of the Human Race" by Michael A. Cremo and Richard L. Thompson (Amazon Link [amzn.to], Condensed Version on Amazon [amzn.to], Wiki Article [wikipedia.org]). The book basically says the same thing: there has been some weak archeological evidence to support the theory that humans (or hominoids) have been around for a lot longer than currently recognized, and in places where people didn't think they were. Obviously the book is controversial and much of the argum
  • by pipingguy ( 566974 ) on Wednesday April 26, 2017 @09:07PM (#54310283)
    Thank you for your latest submission to the Institute, labeled “211-D, layer seven, next to the clothesline post. Hominid skull.” We have given this specimen a careful and detailed examination, and regret to inform you that we disagree with your theory that it represents “conclusive proof of the presence of Early Man in Charleston County two million years ago.” Rather, it appears that what you have found is the head of a Barbie doll, of the variety one of our staff, who has small children, believes to be the “Malibu Barbie”. It is evident that you have given a great deal of thought to the analysis of this specimen, and you may be quite certain that those of us who are familiar with your prior work in the field were loathe to come to contradiction with your findings. However, we do feel that there are a number of physical attributes of the specimen which might have tipped you off to it’s modern origin:

    1. The material is molded plastic. Ancient hominid remains are typically fossilized bone.
    2. The cranial capacity of the specimen is approximately 9 cubic centimeters, well below the threshold of even the earliest identified proto-hominids.
    3. The dentition pattern evident on the “skull” is more consistent with the common domesticated dog than it is with the “ravenous man-eating Pliocene clams” you speculate roamed the wetlands during that time. This latter finding is certainly one of the most intriguing hypotheses you have submitted in your history with this institution, but the evidence seems to weigh rather heavily against it. Without going into too much detail, let us say that:

    A. The specimen looks like the head of a Barbie doll that a dog has chewed on.
    B. Clams don’t have teeth.
  • Seas were much lower (Score:3, Informative)

    by mi ( 197448 ) <slashdot-2016q1@virtual-estates.net> on Wednesday April 26, 2017 @09:29PM (#54310361) Homepage Journal

    The stupid humans crossed (what is now) Bering's Straits, started too many fires and melted too much ice. The ocean-levels rose and there was no way for them to walk back... The Shamanry was settled — it was all their fault.

  • by Required Snark ( 1702878 ) on Wednesday April 26, 2017 @09:33PM (#54310383)
    Like mastodons.

    If human beings, or our earlier ancestors, were killing mastodons 130,000 year ago without eating the meat, then it seems awfully likely that human/hominid hunting was an important factor in the eventual extinction of mastodons and other North American megafauna. Killing a big mammal like that for the bones/marrow implies a very effective predation capability and possible big environmental impact.

    • IMHO the lack of cut marks would most logically suggest the people involved found the bones after the animal was killed by a predator species. This is exactly in line with early human ecology, being able to harvest marrow of large species killed by other predators.
    • by Raenex ( 947668 )

      it seems awfully likely that human/hominid hunting was an important factor in the eventual extinction of mastodons and other North American megafauna

      I think the comet impact theory [wikipedia.org] is more likely than nomadic tribes of ancient humans causing mass extinctions.

    • Cutting the meat off bone leaves distinctive "tool marks" - either of teeth/ claws or of the implements used by human(s) to "butcher" the carcass.

      The bones did not show butchery marks (RTFP, read my link up-thread), so most likely were defleshed by non-humans before the humans "processed" the bones (for marrow, or tool-making material?). That could have been just a few days after the mammoth was killed.

      Are you going to try to chase a pack of sabre-tooth tigers away from their kill?

    • by c ( 8461 )

      If human beings, or our earlier ancestors, were killing mastodons 130,000 year ago without eating the meat

      The evidence is that they don't appear to have been cutting the meat from the bones with sharp tools.

      That's not the same thing as "killed a mastadon" or even "didn't eat any of the meat".

    • Nonsense given the effort it would have been to hunt a mastodon to just eat marrow. The return on the investment is too low. I believe the hypothesis of this study rests on very weak facts.
  • It is amazing that a whole class of humanoids came to America from the middle east and became extinct as the article suggest, then the Natives came and colonized. Amazing how fast things change

  • I don't believe it (Score:4, Interesting)

    by fox171171 ( 1425329 ) on Wednesday April 26, 2017 @10:22PM (#54310585)
    There is no way humans were living in California 130,000 years ago without draconian intellectual property laws and copyright. They would never have survived.
    • There is no way humans were living in California 130,000 years ago without draconian intellectual property laws and copyright. They would never have survived.

      They did, and they didn't.

  • was contemporaneous with this ancient race [theonion.com].

  • I'll believe this when I see the human bones...

  • Nuff Said

  • by RockDoctor ( 15477 ) on Thursday April 27, 2017 @04:28AM (#54311563) Journal
    ... because I have to go and do Real World stuff.

    IF you accept the dating (see my posts up-thread - I'm by no means convinced by the dating, but need to read the other dozen pages of published material as well as the main paper), then this puts ONE or more H.sapiens (or close relative) in California 130kyr ago. That does not mean a breeding population. That could be one ship-wrecked (is "raft-wrecked" a word?) storm-tossed East Asian who arrived with a fish hook and is starting to re-build his tool kit. This could have happened thousands of times without a breeding population being established.

    Off to the Real World.

    • So you think it more likely that somehow a single guy made it across the pacific on a raft, survived, and then managed to leave behind evidence that itself also survived?
  • We've developed electronics in a relatively short time.
    Who's to say they didn't develop space-or interdimensional travel and went somewhere else? (And neatly cleaned up after themselves, for the most part).

    It's not like sci-fi hasn't dealt with this concept before.

  • Since this was obviously a BBQ site.

"And do you think (fop that I am) that I could be the Scarlet Pumpernickel?" -- Looney Tunes, The Scarlet Pumpernickel (1950, Chuck Jones)

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