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Archaeologists Discover One of the Oldest Known Clovis Sites in North America

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Author Topic: Archaeologists Discover One of the Oldest Known Clovis Sites in North America  (Read 232 times)
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« on: August 15, 2014, 01:19:08 am »

Ancient Clovis Elephant-Hunting Camp Discovered in Mexico
Posted by Blake de Pastino on July 14, 2014 in anthropology, archaeology, artifacts, Clovis, excavation, gomphothere, hunting, Indians, Native Americans, nature, news, Paleoindians, prehistoric, Recent, science, Southwestern Archaeology | 6101 Views | 10 Responses

A tip from a rancher in Mexico’s Sonoran Desert has led to an unexpected find: an ancient encampment where members of the Clovis culture hunted an elephant-like animal never before seen in North America’s archaeological record.

More importantly, the camp turned up a host of exquisite stone points and bone ornaments, with organic material dated to 13,400 years ago, making it one of the oldest and southernmost Clovis sites yet found on the continent.

Archaeologists were tipped off in 2007 to unusual bones eroding out of a cut bank some 200 kilometers south of the Arizona border, at a site given the ominous name El Fin del Mundo, or The End of the World.
gomphothere excavationThe jawbone, or mandible, of a gomphothere as it was found, upside down, at El Fin del Mundo excavation site. (Courtesy Vance T. Holliday)
[Learn about another striking find made in northern Mexico: "Oldest Human Footprints in North America Identified"]

There they found the remains of two animals that initially proved difficult to identify.

“At first, just based on the size of the bone, we thought maybe it was a bison, because the extinct bison were a little bigger than our modern bison,” said University of Arizona archaeologist Vance Holliday, in a press statement.

After uncovering the distinctive jawbone and teeth of one of the specimens, they realized they had found gomphotheres, odd-looking, long-jawed ancestors of modern elephants once thought to have vanished from North America before humans arrived.

Much older gomphothere specimens had been found elsewhere in North America, Holliday said, and Clovis hunters were known to have stalked their evolutionary cousins, the mammoths and mastodons. But this is the first evidence that humans shared the continent with, and hunted, gomphotheres.

“This is the first archaeological gomphothere found in North America, and it’s the only one known,” Holliday said, before ticking off the many firsts marked by the find.

“This is the first Clovis gomphothere, it’s the first archaeological gomphothere found in North America, it’s the first evidence that people were hunting gomphotheres in North America, and it adds another item to the Clovis menu.”
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