Saturday, August 23, 2014

Piercing picture

The question of whether humans hunted the woolly mammoth to extinction is still in contention. Now Russian paleontologists Alexander Pavlov and Eugeny Mashchenko have released some unique photographs (ABOVE AND HERE) which further fuel the fire. While excavating at the Lugovskoe "mammoth graveyard" in western Siberia in 2002, they uncovered the thoracic vertebra of a mammoth wounded by a human hunter some 13,470 years ago. The evidence is a cone-shaped hole 7-10 mm wide that pierced the bone to a depth of 23.5 mm. The hole was made by a spear or javelin that was thrown with great force and lodged fragments of quartzite flakes inside. At the time of the hunt, the area – first unearthed in the 1990s – was a swampy one where mammoths and other mammals came for the salt in the blue clay. From the remaining thousands of animal bones, it is clear that many of them got mired in the muck. Paleontologist Anton Rezvy of the Khanty-Mansiysk Museum of Nature and Man, where the bone is now housed, reasons, "Some scientists use our find to prove the theory that man was the main reason for the mammoth's extinction. But it is hard to make such an assumption is this particular case, because we have to take into consideration that the mammoth remains were found in a muddy area where many of them were getting stuck. So even if the humans were hunting them here, it was more killing animals that were already stuck in the mud and had no way to escape."

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