Mammoth Discovery Suggests Human Inhabited Arctic 10,000 Years Earlier Than Thought
The recent discovery of a frozen mammoth carcass in the Siberian Arctic suggests that early humans may have arrived in the area 45,000 years ago -10,000 years earlier than first thought, according to a new study.
Injuries found on the ribs, face and shoulders of the animal suggest that humans likely played a role in its demise - using stone or ivory spears to bring down the animal, writes Nature World News.
Researchers also found signs of tusk damage, which could indicate that early humans collected ivory from its carcass, according to a press release. The specimen was discovered on the eastern shore of Yenisei Bay in the central Siberian Arctic. It was so well preserved that a team of researchers, led by Alexei Tikhonov of the Russian Academy of Sciences, were able to collect soft tissue samples.
"Mammoth tusks were the main target for them [early humans], providing raw materials to produce long points and full-size spears, becoming a substitute for wood that equipped spears with shafts," Vladimir Pitulko, lead author from the Russian Academy of Sciences, told Discovery News.
Mammoths were a major source of food for early human hunter-gatherer populations in the Arctic.
"Indeed, these animals provide an endless source of different goods: food with meat, fat and marrow; fuel with dung, fat and bones; and raw material with long bones and ivory," Pitulko added in a statement to Reuters. "They certainly would use them as food, especially certain parts like tongue or liver as a delicacy, but hunting for the ivory was more important."
Researchers suggest that advancements in mammoth hunting allowed people to survive the harsh climate as well as migrate northward. This would have created an important shift in human migration patterns, which likely allowed humans to travel toward the Bering land bridge and to the New World following the Ice Age.
The study was recently published in the journal Science.