Cut-marks on extinct horse’s jawbone puts human presence in North America 10000 earlier

Archaeologists discovered remains of a hunter camp in a small cave in Bluefish Caves in northwestern Yukon, Canada, that contained a jaw bone of a now extinct Yukon horse. The surface of the artefact was covered with cut marks and it was dated by radiocarbon to 24000 years ago.

Cut-marks on horse’s jaw bone (by Lauriane Bourgeon et al. via Hakai Magazine)

The bone was excavated between 1977-1987 and remained in storage, until recently being analysed under microscope. The initial excavations dated human occupation of the caves to 30000 years ago, being much older than any other human traces found in North America. Lately, the artefacts were sent for radiocarbon dating, which dated the artefacts being from 12000 (caribou bone) to 24000 (horse jaw bone) years old. This second find makes the Bluefish Caves archaeological site the oldest known in North America. So far the oldest ones were three sites in Alaska and one in Yukon, all dating to about 14000 years ago.

Diagram showing the analysis of the jaw bone (by Lauriane Bourgeon et al. via Hakai Magazine)

Once archaeologists assumed that the people of Siberia fled south when the glaciers advanced and returned to cross into North America as the ice retreated, but recent genetic studies suggest that some ancient people rode out the hostile conditions of the Last Glacial Maximum in isolation in the relatively hospitable Beringia (presently-submerged landmass spanning from Siberia to West Canada) before moving deeper into North America when conditions improved. According to the experts the finds from the Bluefish Caves present solid evidence for the Last Glacial Maximum occupation 24000 years ago.

(after Lauriane Bourgeon et al. & Hakai Magizine)

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