The analysis of a mammoth carcass indicates that humans might have populated the Antarctic earlier than believed. According to a team of Russian researchers who have published a study in the journal Science humans arrived in the Arctic 45.000 years ago, which is several millennia earlier than it was previously believed by archaeologists.
The researchers analyzed a partial carcass of a male woolly mammoth which was excavated from frozen sediments in 2012 in a coastal bluff in the central Siberian Arctic, on the eastern shore of Yenisei Bay. Based on radiocarbon dating of the surrounding materials and the woolly mammoth’s tibia bone the investigators concluded that the remains were 45.000 years old.
The mammoth seemed to be healthy before he died. Teeth analysis proved that it was 15 years old when it died. The remains also indicate that large part of the soft tissue remained intact and the animal had a large amount of fat in its hump. This indicates that the animal was healthy, so its death was not caused by disease. However, the bones of the animal were relevant for the findings. The animal seemed to have unusual injuries on the right tusk, the mandible and the ribs. The injuries were caused by sharp weapon tips such as human-made thrusting spears. In addition the damage caused to the tusk indicates that the injuries were caused by humans who tried to chop in order to separate the outside of the tusk.
This evidence indicates that modern humans perhaps lived incredibly far North in central Siberia around 45.000 years ago. In order for this to be possible it means that our ancestors had technology which was more advanced than we might have imagined.
Intern head of the department of anthropology Ted Goebel from Teas A&M University explained that finding out that modern humans were able to survive in the harsh environment of the Arctic so early in time clearly says very much about their technological adaptability and their capabilities. For modern humans to successfully populate the area they must have must have been very quick in developing new methods of adapting to such environmental conditions which they had never been faced with before, Goebel concludes.
If this is true the findings could also explain how the Americas came to be populated. During the Ice Age the Bering Strait was a strip of land, a land bridge which linked Siberia to Alaska as we know it today. Humans could have migrated over the land bridge.
Image Source: nationalgeographic.com