New study shows early North Americans lived with extinct giant beasts

May 03, 2012

(Phys.org) -- A new University of Florida study that determined the age of skeletal remains provides evidence humans reached the Western Hemisphere during the last ice age and lived alongside giant extinct mammals.

The study published online today in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology addresses the century-long debate among scientists about whether human and remains found at Vero Beach in the early 1900s date to the same time period. Using rare earth element analysis to measure the concentration of naturally occurring metals absorbed during fossilization, researchers show modern humans in co-existed with large extinct mammals about 13,000 years ago, including mammoths, and giant ground sloths.

“The Vero site is still the only site where there was an abundance of actual human bones, not just artifacts, associated with the animals,” said co-author Barbara Purdy, UF anthropology professor emeritus and archaeology curator emeritus at the Florida Museum of Natural History on the UF campus. “Scientists who disputed the age of the human remains in the early 20th century just did not want to believe that people were in the Western Hemisphere that early. And 100 years later, every single book written about the prehistory of North America includes this site and the controversy that still exists.”

Following discovery of the fossils in South Florida between 1913 and 1916, some prominent scientists convinced researchers the human skeletons were from more recent burials and not as old as the animals, a question that remained unanswered because no dating methods existed.

“The uptake of rare earth elements is time-dependent, so an old fossil is going to have very different concentrations of rare earth elements than bones from a more recent human burial,” said lead author Bruce MacFadden, Florida Museum vertebrate paleontology curator. “We found the human remains have statistically the same concentrations of rare earth elements as the fossils.”

The little information known about the first humans to appear in North America is primarily based on bone fragments and artifacts, such as stone points used for hunting. Other sites in California, Montana and Texas show human presence around the same time period based on artifacts, but two nearly complete human skeletons were discovered at the Vero Beach site.

As bones begin to fossilize they absorb elements from the surrounding sediment, and analysis is effective in distinguishing different-aged fossils deposited in the same locality. Instead of radiocarbon dating, which requires the presence of collagen in bones, researchers used mass spectrometry to compare rare earth elements in the specimens because a lack of collagen in the Vero Beach specimens made radiocarbon dating impossible, Purdy said.

Researchers analyzed samples from 24 human bones and 48 animal fossils in the Florida Museum’s collections and determined the specimens were all from the late Pleistocene epoch about 13,000 years ago. While rare earth element analysis method is not as precise as radiocarbon dating, Purdy said the significance of human skeletons found in Vero Beach is unquestionable in terms of their presence in the Western Hemisphere.

“It is important to note that they [the authors] did not provide an absolute or chronometric date, rather the geochemistry shows that the trace elemental geochemistry is the same, thus the bones must be of the same age,” said Kenneth Tankersley, an assistant professor in the University of Cincinnati anthropology and geology departments.

Native fauna during the last ice age ranged from extinct jaguars and saber-toothed cats to shrews, mice and squirrels still present in Florida. Researchers speculate humans would have been wanderers much like the animals because there was less fresh water than in later years, Purdy said.

“Humans would have been following the animals for a food supply, but that’s about all we know,” Purdy said. “We know what some of their tools looked like and we know they were hunting the extinct animals but we know practically nothing about their family life, such as how these ancient people raised their children and grieved for their dead.”

Study co-authors include Krista Church of UF and the University of Texas, and Thomas Stafford Jr., of Stafford Research in Colorado and the University of Copenhagen.

“Vero is a historical context for the development of archaeology – these are the beginnings of the people of America,” MacFadden said. “The site is well-known in the literature but has been discounted, so we’re sort of reviving an understanding of this important locality and using newer techniques to revive the question about the antiquity of the humans.”

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User comments : 21

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Telekinetic
1 / 5 (2) May 03, 2012
Didn't these researchers ever see the movie "One Million Years B.C."?
Lordjavathe3rd
not rated yet May 03, 2012
I misread the title as extinct giant breast. Yes yes, superfluous comment. You can tell I don't lurk much on this site.
NotParker
1 / 5 (3) May 03, 2012
"lived with extinct giant beasts"

Wow. There must have been a cave shortage.
letstakeawalk42
5 / 5 (1) May 03, 2012
The Topper Site indicates that humans may have inhabited North America since at least 16,000 years ago.
NotParker
1 / 5 (4) May 04, 2012
You have to wonder where those early humans came from if they showed up in Florida first.
Anorion
3 / 5 (4) May 04, 2012
well parker, there was some kind of flood and that made everglades with a lot of dirt there , so gawd took that mud mixed with alligator shit and made first floridians and then they started to religiously kill each other to celebrate their gawd for that, and they keep doing it till christians came from spain and show them how its done by killing them all, together with the beasts they were sharing cave with, hence that is why they both extinct now. well don't start with details its some shit like that. Oo
on other side most archeological evidences suggest humans crossing bering strait during the glaciation while hunting for any kind of sea mammals or other big game, so they had time to multiply and to spread across americas.
unless theye were kidnapped by aliens somewhere else and released in florida as part of some sexual experiment. oO
NotParker
1 / 5 (3) May 04, 2012
archeological evidences suggest humans crossing bering strait during the glaciation


Except that theory has evidence for that migration occurring later than the habitation of Florida because an ice free corridor was necessary.

There are other theories:

"In this hypothesis, people associated with the Solutrean culture migrated from Ice Age Europe to North America, bringing their methods of making stone tools with them and providing the basis for later Clovis technology found throughout North America. The hypothesis rests upon particular similarities in Solutrean and Clovis technology that have no known counterparts in Eastern Asia, Siberia or Beringia, areas from which or through which early Americans are known to have migrated."

http://en.wikiped...pothesis

I actually have no opinion which is correct other than the Clovis theory is falling apart and I'm curious which one succeeds it.

Anorion
3.7 / 5 (3) May 04, 2012
why would they need ice free corridor ?
Bering Strait is approximately 53 miles (85 km) wide.
and in ice age sea level was even lower, that is not much for nomads. Eskimos practically live on ice, and just go on land during summer at melt and travel distances much greater than 53 miles (85 km) to go hunt for seals. if they stayed near shore to hunt and gather sea food, they probably didnt had much circulating in that area till they got cut off by meltdown of ice in the area, at that point they spread to rest of americas
NotParker
1 / 5 (3) May 04, 2012
why would they need ice free corridor ?


The ice sheets covering North America were miles thick. It was 1 mile thick at Chicago. Two miles thick in more northern regions.

This what it would look like:

http://www.summit.../webcam/

No seals on the summit of an ice sheet.
okyesno
1 / 5 (2) May 04, 2012
Supports the Biblical model rather than millions of years of evolution and extinction.
Anorion
3.7 / 5 (3) May 04, 2012
but they didnt cross at chicago or more north of that. they crossed at bering strait or near there, that is much more west , near asia, not near chicago
NotParker
1 / 5 (3) May 04, 2012
but they didnt cross at chicago or more north of that. they crossed at bering strait or near there, that is much more west , near asia, not near chicago


"These two glacial ice sheets were periodically joined together stopping migrations of animals and humans through Beringia into southern Canada and the United States. For at least 10,000 years after 25,000 years ago, great icy barriers would have limited travel between Beringia and North America south of Alaska.

However, at other times during the late Pleistocene, the dates are uncertain, an ice-free corridor was possible through the major river valleys coming from the Rocky Mountains where the "Cordilleran" glacial ice did not meet the western edge of the "Laurentide" glacial ice.

Perhaps the important question is not whether the ice sheets allowed travel from Beringia into Canada and the United States, but whether resources existed in this passage between the ice sheets to support animal and human life ...."
Anorion
3.7 / 5 (3) May 04, 2012
well perhaps if they stayed near coast for fishing and seals as i said and maybe they had some possibility to navigate short distance too ... a lot of evidence show americas where colonized much longer than previous believed
NotParker
1 / 5 (3) May 04, 2012
well perhaps if they stayed near coast for fishing and seals as i said and maybe they had some possibility to navigate short distance too ... a lot of evidence show americas where colonized much longer than previous believed


The ice sheet extended to the edge of the continental shelf. The sheet could have been as much as 300m high at the edge.

TheGhostofOtto1923
1.8 / 5 (5) May 04, 2012
Supports the Biblical model rather than millions of years of evolution and extinction.
Yes they are only extinct because they would not fit on the ark. Noah had to conduct triage and pick only the more benign and aesthetically pleasing animals. No brontops, no buck-toothed cats, absolutely no dinos (yuk!) and none of those wierd half human australopithecines or Oreopithecines (but perhaps gigantopithecus?)

He still would have needed an ark the size of rhode island to house 2 of every animal which supposedly survived, so I guess he had to freeze-dry some of them.

This leaves the quandry regarding all the extinct marine animals who should have been able to save themselves. No plesiosaurs, no mosasaurs, no whale precursors, no extinct coelocanth... not to mention all the trilobites and Ammonites which had no choice but to ossify.

And not to mention of course the FACT that there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever for a flood, nor any place in the biblical timeline for it.
NotParker
1 / 5 (2) May 04, 2012
And not to mention of course the FACT that there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever for a flood


Lake Agassiz:

"This final drainage of Lake Agassiz contributed an estimated 1 to 3 meters to total post-glacial global sea level rise.[7] Much of the final drainage may have occurred in a very short time, in one or two events, perhaps taking as little as a year."

"The draining at 8,400 may be the cause of the 8,200 yr climate event. A recent study by Turney and Brown links the 8,400 drainage to the expansion of agriculture from east to west across Europe; he suggests that this may also account for various flood myths of prehistoric cultures, including the Biblical flood."

http://en.wikiped..._Agassiz
NotParker
1 / 5 (2) May 04, 2012
And not to mention of course the FACT that there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever for a flood


Caspian and Black Sea

"massive river discharge that flowed into the Caspian Sea, raising it to as much as 50 metres (160 ft) above normal present-day levels. The rise was extremely rapid and the Caspian basin could not contain all the floodwater, which flowed from the northwest coastline of the Caspian Sea, through the Kuma-Manych Depression and Kerch Strait, over the current eastern coastline of the Sea of Azov into the ancient Black Sea basin. By the end of the Pleistocene this would have raised the level of the Black Sea by some 60 to 70 metres "

"... this may have formed the basis for legends of the great Deluge"
http://en.wikiped...istoric)

http://en.wikiped...thology)
Anorion
1 / 5 (2) May 04, 2012
And not to mention of course the FACT that there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever for a flood


Lake Agassiz:

"This final drainage of Lake Agassiz contributed an estimated 1 to 3 meters to total post-glacial global sea level rise.[7] Much of the final drainage may have occurred in a very short time, in one or two events, perhaps taking as little as a year."

"The draining at 8,400 may be the cause of the 8,200 yr climate event. A recent study by Turney and Brown links the 8,400 drainage to the expansion of agriculture from east to west across Europe; he suggests that this may also account for various flood myths of prehistoric cultures, including the Biblical flood."

http://en.wikiped..._Agassiz


they key word MYTHS

btw snakes don't talk
TheGhostofOtto1923
2.3 / 5 (6) May 04, 2012
This final drainage of Lake Agassiz contributed an estimated 1 to 3 meters to total post-blah
This may be evidence for a flood at the agassiz
"massive river discharge that flowed into the Caspian Sea, raising it to as much as 50 metres (160 ft) above normal present-day blah
This may be evidence for a flood at the caspian.
"... this may have formed the basis for legends of the great Deluge"
So what?

Present some evidence for a flood which would have covered the himalayas.
NotParker
1 / 5 (1) May 04, 2012
This final drainage of Lake Agassiz contributed an estimated 1 to 3 meters to total post-blah
This may be evidence for a flood at the agassiz
"massive river discharge that flowed into the Caspian Sea, raising it to as much as 50 metres (160 ft) above normal present-day blah
This may be evidence for a flood at the caspian.
"... this may have formed the basis for legends of the great Deluge"
So what?

Present some evidence for a flood which would have covered the himalayas.


Was that the question? Great floods have occurred.
LEVI506
1 / 5 (1) May 05, 2012
Interesting that some native american lore tells of hunting giant hairy beasts such as the wooly mammoth. Could it really have happened within their tribal memory?