Hot Off the Press: The-Not-So New World?


There have been some very heated debts among the archaeological community about the first Homo sapiens sapiens to arrive in America. The modern consensus is the Clovis culture arrived around 15,000 years ago migrating across the Bering land bridge. But based on very recently published findings form Nature, it could push back the time table to when earlier hominin (key word) arrived in America and not modern Homo sapiens sapiens. The time change could be over 115,000 earlier than what the modern consensus is, that modern day humans where the first to arrive in American around 15,000 years ago.

It starts in the early 90’s at Route 54 in San Diego county. When (recently dated to be 130,000 years old) mastodon fossils were discovered a portion of the area was blocked off for excavation. What was odd about the discovery was the fossilized bones of the mastodon where crushed by what looked like stone tools found with them. And at the site they also found some very rudimentary stone tools that look like other stone tools found that would have been used like a hammer and anvil. Based on the breakage of the mastodon bones and testing of modern elephant bones using similar stone tools found at the site they make the same pattern of breakage.

What is interesting is that they found the (possibly tools) stones in the first place. Because the sedimentary layer they found the fossils is made of siltstone, which was deposited by slow moving water. And based on geological processes, the current of the water to deposit silt is way to weak to have placed the ,some 30 pounds, rocks. It is suggested that they were likely left there from human activity. They also claim based on the fractures of bones they were done soon after death and not by natural or geological processes.

Cerutti Mastodon site.

If not us then who? The site dates back to 130,000 years ago but the earliest evidence of us leaving Africa is 100,000 years ago. So who was there. Sadly there were no human bones discovered at the site. And Hominins were a lot more diverse then they are are now, Homo sapiens sapiens being the only ones alive today. And based on the time there are numerous possibilities like the late Homo erects, the mysterious Denisovans, Neandertals, or even Homo floresiensis, though I seriously doubt it was people of the Flores man. But until there is a skeleton found around this date, if there is any to be found, we wont know for sure.

Currently the team that discovered the site are looking for mastodon protein residue in the pores of the rocks. If the rocks really were used as tools and the residue is there then the tools(not just rocks at this point) will really become compelling. The team will also begin there re-excavation of the site hopefully discovering further evidence. For now I remain skeptical, but intrigued and optimistic. For the time being there have already been the skeptic archaeologists making there claims, as anthropologists usually do when a new discovery might put a dent in the modern consensus. But I agree that there needs to be more evidence (bones) before we cut down trees to change the history books.

For more information, evidence, and skepticism please visit these articles.


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