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, December 15, 2020

130ky Cerutti site stone tools validated as made by human beings?

In April 2017 we posted about the Cerutti mastodon site in California, with its "stone tools" dated to 130,000 years ago.

An article (Raman and optical microscopy of bone micro-residues on cobbles from the Cerutti mastodon site) published this month, reports finding bone micro residues on the cobbles found next to the broken mastodon bones, suggesting that these were used as tools to break the bones open and not just a chance accumulation of stones and broken bones.

The abstract states:

"Cobbles from the Cerutti Mastodon (CM) site have impact marks and usewear suggesting that mastodon bones were placed on stone anvils and struck with stone hammers to produce two concentrations of broken bones and stones. Critics have suggested that the stones may have broken by rolling down slopes rather than in situ at the two concentrations. Our analysis of two cobbles (pegmatite CM-254 and andesite CM-281) identifies bone micro-residues that are not evenly distributed over the cobbles, and are unlikely to have been transferred from sediment or from passive contact with adjacent macro-bones. Bone micro-residues on cobble CM-254 were recovered from surfaces associated with usewear, but were absent from the naturally broken surface found in direct contact with a mastodon rib. In addition, bone micro-residues on cobble CM-281 were recovered from upward facing locations with impact marks and other usewear; but were absent on the downward facing surface. Bone micro-residues are absent in sediment away from the bone concentrations. These new data support the argument that the associated concentration of broken stones and mastodon bones is in situ, and that bones in this concentration were likely broken by the pegmatite cobble (comprising CM-254 and other fragments), when it struck mastodon bones placed on the andesite cobble CM-281. These findings add to the totality of evidence that supports human agency rather than geological processes as the driver responsible for the CM taphonomic pattern. "

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  1. Very interesting post!!. I am glad to know that Cerutti Mastodon site becomes more supported.
    In addition to the existing evidence, covered by you on April 27, 2017 as “America peopled 130 Ka ago” and further discussed by you and readers of your blog… these recent findings of bone micro-residues concentrated in the “active” surfaces of the described lithics (those associated with use wear), but absent in other surfaces of them, as well as in sediments away from the excavation grids… would add a substantial element of judgement, as any remaining doubt about the agent that could have caused them, could now be completely ruled up.
    As a result of this, pegmatite CM-254 and andesite CM-281( hammer and anvil respectively), would be human made tools. It is important to remark that this aspect was probably the most criticized.
    At the light of this recent research, I think that the evidence at Cerutti Mastodon site has grown significantly…up to the degree of deserving the character of “conclusive”…
    However, to be realistic, we should not expect that human activity in America at the very onset of the last climatic cycle, can so easily be “digested” and accepted as if by the mainstream archaeologists. Far from this, further complaints will surely be raised against CM, arguing that this is still not enough for a pre-LGM site placed on America.
    Do they expect for “Monteverde II like” evidence (that also included preserved wood from the settlers huts) at 130 Ka…???. If so, they are wrong…

    Best regards

    Apart from this, CM site, located well below the southernmost limits of all known glaciations, is also a good example on where the first steps of humans in America could be more likely to be found, that is; in regions whose possible bearing layers of ancient remains have not been denudated by the action of glaciers or other devastating climatic events…and obviously, in which the geological record extends well deep into the Pleistocene.

  2. What could be a better news? Finding human fossils at the site.

  3. Next goal: Finding hominid fossils at the site or near the site.


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