Guide to Patagonia's Monsters & Mysterious beings

I have written a book on this intriguing subject which has just been published.
In this blog I will post excerpts and other interesting texts on this fascinating subject.

Austin Whittall

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Ameghino and the Tertiary Man. Part 2.

Continuing with Florentino Ameghino (see previous post) and his theory of a Tertiary man in America, one that originated in the Americas and spread from there to the rests of the world, in today's post we will take a look at the stone tools that have a distinct "ancient" lithic technology look.

Ameghino does not hesitate to label the tools he discovers as "Mousterian" or "Acheulean", he is convinced that they are really old tools, tools not made by modern humans.

Bifacial spear point. Mousterian

He found what he calls "spear points" and states that "All the ones that we have, belong to the Moustier type, and until now we have only found one specimen crafted on both sides, which regrettably we lost the same day that we found it. It was of a great size and almond shaped, chiselled with great care on all its surface. [1]

He notes that the arrow heads (smaller than the spear points) are much neater than the Moustier points and says, regarding spears, the following:

"The face is fashioned with large blows and only are the edges fashioned with some care.
The most common shape is shown in figures 54 and 56, leaf shaped and knapped with strong blows...[1]

mousterian stone tool Argentina
Mousterian spear point from arroyo Frías, Buenos Aires. Fig. 54, From [1]

Axe, Acehulean

Ameghino also mentions axes. He recognizes that they are "extremely rare, and cites one, resembling an Acheulean axe, found by a Jesuit missionary in the hills at Tandil, 350 km southwest of Buenos Aires:

"of common cuartz, thick bodied, pointed, ovoidal and approaching the Saint-Acehul, 125 milimeters long, a maximum width of 70 and 20 thick.
Personally we have found several quartz stones [...] the largest is shown in figure 117, found on the shores of cañada Rocha. It is the exact reproduction of a variety of Quaternary European axe, known as Moustier. It is made of quartz, elongated oval shape and knapped on one face. The worked face is convex and chiselled with care on all its surface, but especially its edges, which are chipped with small blows. It is well sharpened, especially on both of its tips [...] it is 65 milimeters long, 29 wide and 11 thick in its thickest part, the central one." [1]

Mousterian tool Argentina
Mousterian tool, from cañada Rocha, Buenos Aires. Fig. 117, From [1]

Axe, unifacial and bifacial, Mousterian

Besides the few "axes" from Buenos Aires mentioned above, he mentions others discovered in Uruguay, some of which are "worked on one side". These are not biface axes, they are "unifacial" (perhaps used as scrapers).

"Apart from these axes worked on only one face, there are others, shorter and not so thick, with a wider, rounded base, which also end in a pretty pointed tip, very similar in their outline to the triangular axe found in the Moustier cave, drawn by Hamy in his «Paléontologie Humaine» [...]
The best specimen we found is shown in figure 300, it is 152 milimeters long, 134 in its widest part and 58 in its thickest. A large part of its edge is shaped with concoidal blows, in particular its upper tip, which has been knapped and thinned so that it can be easily gripped.
Axes worked on both faces are not so numerous as the others. The most notable one we have, is oval shaped, convex on both facces and shaped with heavy blows on all of its surface [...] This instrument is depicted in fig. 289, it is shaped in such a way that it has a cutting edge all along its border, produced by many concoidal blows, applied in an oblique manner on one side and the other side of the edge. The surface of the stone has several concoideal depressions with a very flat bottom, the outcome of having removed, with blows, great pieces of stone. It is 19 centimeters long, 12 wide and 8 thick in its thickest part, and it ways 57 ounces... [1]

uruguayan mousterian axe
Mousterian axe, Uruguay. Fig. 300, From [1]

uruguayan mousterian axe
Mousterian axe, Uruguay. Fig. 289, From [1]

Leaving Ameghino for the time being, below is another image, this one corresponding to a hand axe found in Montevideo, Uruguay, at the small hill that overlooks the town, (Cerro de Montevideo), at Punta del Tigre. It is part of the Museo Nacional de Antropología museum. It is a rather coarse looking axe. [2]

Hand Axe from Montevideo, Uruguay. From [2]

He believed these tools were the work of humans that had originated in America. He devised a hypothetical evolutionary chain, from the most primitive hominin to the most advanced ones. A chain built on feeble links, since the remains of some of these creatures were never found. In a previous post I mentioned the "Diprothomo" skull found during the building of Buenos Aires port, Ameghino believed that it belonged to one of his hypothetical hominids (Diprothomo). But this will be the subject of another post.

To be continued.


[1] Ameghino, F., and C., (1918). La antigüedad del hombre en el Plata ... Texto de la edición oficial, dirigida por A.J. Torcelli bajo la dirección de Carlos Ameghino pp. 132 and 222
[2] Citrino.Blogspot

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