45,000 Year-Old Woolly Mammoth Suggests Earlier Human Arrival In Eurasia Arctic

Paleontologists have uncovered an exceptionally complete carcass of a 45,000 year old woolly mammoth with signs of human inflicted wounds from man-made weapons.

The evidence suggests that humans lived in Arctic Siberia 10,000 years earlier than previously thought. Paleontologist Dr Alexei Tikhonov and his team reported their findings in the journal Science.


Excavations of the woolly mammoth in Central Siberian Arctic. Image credit: Vladimir Pitulko

The find also shows humans were further north than known before. The previous northern most find of that age was found at 57°N – this find expands the human populated area to 72°N.

Scientists excavated the carcass from exposed frozen sediments on the coast of eastern shore of Yenisei Bay, in central Siberian Arctic.

“The mammoth is an exceptionally complete mammoth skeleton with a small amount of preserved soft tissue, including the remains of the fat hump and the penis. It is more complete than other recent finds from Taimyr, known as the Kastyktakh and Jarkov mammoths,” the scientists explain in the study.

Radiocarbon dating of the mammoth showed it’s about 45,000 years old.

“The large amount of fat at the hump indicates that the mammoth was in a good physical condition. This was a young male around 15 years old, according to the tooth change model. Its bones exhibit a number of unusual injuries.”

Surprisingly, the teams analysis showed unusual dents likely from man-made weapons, and damage to the tusks suggests the use of a chopping tool.

“Advancements in mammoth hunting probably allowed people to survive and spread widely across northernmost Arctic Siberia at this time, representing an important cultural shift – one that likely facilitated the arrival of humans in the area close to the Bering land bridge, providing them an opportunity to enter the New World before the Last Glacial Maximum.”

“These findings leave no doubt that people were present in the central Siberian Arctic by about 45,000 years ago,” the researchers conclude.


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