Uruguay is a small country in southern South America, between Brazil and Argentina, relatively flat -an eastern extension of the Argentine Pampas, it has some hills not more than 500 m (1,500 ft.), with ancient Paleozoic rocks. It is also the place where ancient stone tools dated to 32,000 years ago have been found, at the Arroyo del Vizcaíno (the name means: Vizcaine creek - Vizcaine is a native of Vizcaya, Spain).
The stone tools
A paper published last November(Fariña et al, 2013) describes some megafaunal bones that they dug up at a site by this creek which displayed some marks similar to those produced by a human cutting tool. They also came across some lithic material which they described as follows:
Although during the fieldwork no systematic effort was made to collect lithic material and only a part of this site has been exhaustively explored, a few lithic elements were found to have seemingly anthropogenic features, although such elements are scarce, as is usual in South American Pleistocene archaeological sites.
These include flakes made of silicified sandstone (see the electronic supplementary material), but their grain size prevented further microscopical analysis. However, a small piece of translucid silcrete has features compatible with a scraper (figure 4f,g) [shown below].
This piece was found in bed 2 in very close association with several bones (figure 2b). It is a pseudo-pyramidal nucleus with dimensions 29.6 × 14.5 × 15.5 mm. Both proximal and distal borders are short and convex. They are unifacially retouched and asymmetrically bevelled at intermediate angles (70° in the proximal border and 60° in the distal one). The proximal border presents marginal semicircular retouching, and the distal border shows deep retouching of irregularly parallel morphology. Using a scanning electron microscope (SEM) at 700–4300×, an area was identified (asterisk in figure 4f) extending along a large portion of the distal edge of the largest face that reflects the incidental electrons differently from the central parts of that face. That area is rather dull and coarse, with circular microdepressions that are darker than the rest of the surface (see the electronic supplementary material, figure S15), covering the high zones as well as the low ones, and is accompanied by noteworthy edge rounding.
These features are consistent with those observed in a second-stage micropolish, as produced by working on dry hide. Micropolish is the only feature observable with optical microscopy that is produced by the use of a tool and not by natural or accidental causes, and thus it is a diagnostic indicator of human agency even in the absence of any other kind of evidence. Both retouched edges show a nearly continuous pattern of microflaking of different size and morphology.
Once again (see my previous post), the stone tool looks rather primitive and roughly hewn, if man-made, the work of a clumsy or maybe primitive hominin (perhaps an extant H. erectus or Neanderthal).
The authors therefore document a "Human–megafauna interaction" involving 1,000 bones belonging to 27 animals.
Since there is "little evidence of major fluvial transport" and most animals were "prime adults" they concluded that they had been killed by humans. Furthermore additional evidence pointed that way: ".. several bones present deep, asymmetrical, microstriated, sharp and shouldered marks similar to those produced by human stone tools....".
The problem is that "...the radiocarbon age of the site is unexpectedly old (between 27 and 30 thousand years ago)...". Problem in the sense that it goes against the Clovis first theory and pushes the peopling of America date back by about 10,000 years at least.
No wonder Fariña and team are cautious in wording their finding, not to ruffle the feathers in the caps of orthodox scientists who will surely pounce on them and ridicule the finding by questioning it(methods, dating, etc.).
Quoting the paper (bold mine):
... However, besides some rather controversial claims in both South and North America, current evidence for humans arriving in the New World (excluding Beringia) before the Last Glacial Maximum (as indicated by the dates at Arroyo del Vizcaíno) is equivocal. Thus, the age of the site and the scarcity of formal tools urge caution in interpretation. In any case, we argue that the Arroyo del Vizcaíno site deserves to be included in the agenda of early American peopling, either as a not foreseeable discovery or as an example of natural processes mimicking human presence...
In other words, they are saying that: this site seems old but it goes against orthodoxy, please consider it, either to prove it is a natural process and not man-made or, maybe, just perhaps, add it to the list of "ancient" sites that bear a large question mark.
What is needed is in anthropology is a Galileo and a Copernicus to break through the Ptolemaic nonsense concocted by Hrdlicka nearly a century ago, when he invented the Clovis first theory.
Richard A. Fariña1, P. Sebastián Tambusso, Luciano Varela1, Ada Czerwonogora, Mariana Di Giacomo1, Marcos Musso, Roberto Bracco and Andrés Gascue, (2013), Arroyo del Vizcaíno, Uruguay: a fossil-rich 30-ka-old megafaunal locality with cut-marked bones, Published 20 November 2013 doi: 10.1098/rspb.2013.2211, Proc. R. Soc. B 7 January 2014 vol. 281 no. 1774 20132211
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