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Earth Science

Grisly Find Suggests Humans Inhabited Arctic 45,000 Years Ago (sciencemag.org) 138

sciencehabit points out this story which may rewrite the early history of humans in North America. From the Sciencemag story: "In August of 2012, an 11-year-old boy made a gruesome discovery in a frozen bluff overlooking the Arctic Ocean. While exploring the foggy coast of Yenisei Bay, about 2000 kilometers south of the North Pole, he came upon the leg bones of a woolly mammoth eroding out of frozen sediments. Scientists excavating the well-preserved creature determined that it had been killed by humans: Its eye sockets, ribs, and jaw had been battered, apparently by spears, and one spear-point had left a dent in its cheekbone—perhaps a missed blow aimed at the base of its trunk. When they dated the remains, the researchers got another surprise: The mammoth died 45,000 years ago. That means that humans lived in the Arctic more than 10,000 years earlier than scientists believed, according to a new study. The find suggests that even at this early stage, humans were traversing the most frigid parts of the globe and had the adaptive ability to migrate almost everywhere."
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Grisly Find Suggests Humans Inhabited Arctic 45,000 Years Ago

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  • old Johnny Carson joke
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Sounds to me like they found a Mammoth, not a Grisly Bear...

  • It was warmer back then, so i suppose the hunting was great. We could use some warming other than the hot air we get from Washington.
    • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

      The timing puts it in the last ice age. In 45,000 years ice does not stay still but moves about a bit and the end of the last ice age many interesting things would have been happening with regard to mass flooding, break down of debris and methane generation. Most of civilised human ice age history would be logically under water. The more ice melts, the more water rises and the more readily coastal civilisations are inundated. Do you want to invest in underwater front, go right ahead but don't expect the re

      • So all the liberal, alarmist, media that live and work in NYC are waffling? When NBC closes their Rockefeller center studio and moves it to Denver I'll take notice. You know because a lot of New York City is less than 16 feet above mean sea level!

      • Re:Warmer. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Runaway1956 ( 1322357 ) on Thursday January 14, 2016 @09:17PM (#51304517) Homepage Journal

        Cities are disposable. Build a city, use it so long as it remains convenient to use, and when the water rolls over it, just abandon it.

        WTF makes people think we need to defend cities? You've forgotten your nomad roots?

        • WTF makes people think we need to defend cities? You've forgotten your nomad roots?

          Where where you when the US Gov't built all those Levies to 'defend' the city of New Orleans? We've fought very hard to defend the underwater city of New Orleans...

          • Personally, I have always wondered why we rebuilt New Orleans after Katrina. Those who rebuilt below sea level should have been told that they are no longer covered by insurance and that they should move to higher ground.

        • Food supply is a big reason, and infrastructure. Now if you want to completely revert to a hunter-gatherer society, where do you think we're going to find enough food for everyone?
          Neither hunting nor scavenging is going to do it. Mass-production is where it's at.

          Oh, and shelter? Sorry, but a tarp hanging off a tree probably ain't gonna cut it for most people. Especially if it's cold and winter'ish.

          Cities are generally built around resources. This can include minerals, water, food sources, or access. Even th

          • But phorm, food production isn't done in the city. Its done in small scraps of land outside of the cities. And depending on how the modern times changes the entry of the inland, a lot of food production might be somewhere far inlands in the mountains.
            In the large picture, the city is just a place to stay, where some infastructure is. Most of that infrastructure depends on infrastructure that isn't in the city, such as transportation(boats), farmland, mining, wood cutting, etc.

        • They got used to the high-speed internet connection.
        • by mvdwege ( 243851 )

          Cities are where people stop being nomads and start building civilisation. It's clear where your priorities lie.

        • by dasunt ( 249686 )

          Your argument, as stated, also applies to getting rid of fire departments. After all, why do people think they should defend houses?

          It even applies to basic home maintenance and upkeep. Why reroof a home? You can always just move once the ceiling starts to leak and rot sets in.

          A more nuanced view would look at the costs. What's the cost of defending cities versus the costs of relocating cities. What's the value of all the low-lying cities threatened by global warming? How much would it cost to mov

          • You start off with absurdities, but you finish with good questions. I'll answer those latter with, "Well, maybe this time around, we can build sensibly!" Take Philadelphia, for instance. Or, Chicago. The nation's infrastructure stipulates that streets should be accessible to over-the-road trucks, about 72 feet long, about 10' 6" wide, and 13' 6" high. And, the streets should support those trucks weighing 80,000 pounds. However, both of the cities I've named have huge amounts of places where such truck

        • WTF makes people think we need to defend cities? You've forgotten your nomad roots?

          Most cultures moved past being nomads .. they became agrarian, established and then industrialized.

          Things like roads and running water and libraries and burial grounds and temples ... all of those things which helped us build modern society ... they eventually anchored us to cities.

          Humans have fundamentally changed the landscape of the world, and there's far too many of us to try to pretend that our nomadic roots have any app

      • "The more ice melts, the more water rises and the more readily coastal civilisations are inundated."

        Well, not exactly, specifically here, since we are talking about Northern Eurasia.

        When ice melts water rises, true, but there's also the fact that the melted ice adds weight no more to the land it sat on, so land also rises. It's then a matter of what rises more/faster: sea level or land and in Northern Europe (i.e. Scandinavia) it's land the one winning the race.

    • It was warmer back then,

      Why do you think that?

      For mammoths - and many other grazing animals, the problem is not temperature, but whether or not they can get at food under the snow.

      When the Arctic was colder, the moisture would have frozen out of the air further out in the margins (Scandanavia, Korea, Kamchatka) leaving Central Siberia very cold, but dry. At which point, the long daylight hours of the summer can produce relatively large amounts of growth which can be eaten in the winter - if it's not buri

  • by n0creativity ( 1913968 ) on Thursday January 14, 2016 @07:46PM (#51304167)
    I am a sys admin and while I love learning about history, I definitely didn't pay much attention to it during my education days, so excuse my ignorance if this is a dumb question. How do they know that humans didn't just find the frozen, preserved carcass later on like this kid did, say 35,000 years ago. They find it and figure it's an easy way to harvest some tools which would explain the tool marks. Any science\archeology nerds care to shed any light on this for me?
    • by wbr1 ( 2538558 ) on Thursday January 14, 2016 @08:06PM (#51304247)
      Because the marks left by hunting differ from butchering.
    • by Harlequin80 ( 1671040 ) on Thursday January 14, 2016 @08:40PM (#51304381)

      From the article - “The impact wounds on the bones with embedded stone fragments is conclusive evidence that people slayed this mammoth.”

      They can often determine cause of death from skeletons long after any flesh has rotted or been removed. Impact strikes or piercing weapons leave imprints on the skeleton that are different to those of removing meat from a carcass. They can even tell which side a woman tended to carry her handbag from the dints left in her skeleton.

      • by Ol Olsoc ( 1175323 ) on Thursday January 14, 2016 @10:18PM (#51304701)

        From the article - “The impact wounds on the bones with embedded stone fragments is conclusive evidence that people slayed this mammoth.”

        They can often determine cause of death from skeletons long after any flesh has rotted or been removed. Impact strikes or piercing weapons leave imprints on the skeleton that are different to those of removing meat from a carcass. They can even tell which side a woman tended to carry her handbag from the dints left in her skeleton.

        Note - the following is not a diss against n0creativity - he asked an intelligent question and was wishing to learn - so good on you n0creativity.

        This is one of those things that some folks will never get. Because they cannot comprehend that some folks can know more than they do. It's why we have TV shows like "Ancient Aliens" where anything that humans have accoomplished is credited to aliens. Nikola Tesla? He got his ideas from Aliens, So did Einstein, Space flight, Pyramids, Nuclear weapons, Nuclear power generation. None of it by us stoopid hoomins. I listened to a guy this past week who denied the existence of dinosaurs. His proof? "That's just crazy", interspersed with "how did they know how old thes things were", "How did they know how to put the bones back together?" "That's just crazy!"

        Is it any wonder that many of these same people cannot comprehend basic science? How could scientists know things like this stuff,? Must be fake. Arguments from personal incredulity. Which guarantees that the dumbest person in the room wins.

      • by phorm ( 591458 )

        But it's not to say it was from anything quite like a modern human. Maybe our more primitive ancestors were better with tools. Heck, maybe they were more like chimps.

        • I think you're suggesting if maybe they just hammered away to butcher a dead animal?

          No one in this thread really addressed it clearly, so I'll explain. They can tell if a wound/break to the skeletal structure happened before or after death. Its similar in nature to breaking a branch off a living tree vs breaking a branch off a dead tree. The breaks are completely different.

          http://www.academia.edu/236437... [academia.edu]

          • by phorm ( 591458 )

            What I meant is that calling them "humans" means to many "Homo Sapien" or a close ancestor, but it's possible that it was a further branch of the species or an alternate branch which has died out. I suppose it depends on what you define as "human" though.

            • Not 45,000 years ago in this location. They most definitely would have been anatomically modern homo sapiens.
    • The damage to the carcass would be distinctly different if the wounds were received perimortem vs. postmortem...and much more so if it was 10, 000 years later to a frozen carcass. Basic forensic anthropology; I haven't RTFA but it would be really, really difficult from an archaeological perspective to confuse damage to a frozen mummy with perimortem injuries. (Not a practicing archaeologist, but I did get my degree in the subject).
    • Bone that is alive - or recently dead - cuts under the knife in a different way to bone that has been dead for days or longer. It's a basic of the study of bones and wounds, which has obvious interest to the police. Not just your "is this that missing hooker?" local Police Department, but also those looking at (alleged) mass graves from the Bosnian/ Somali/ Sudanese ... conflicts.
  • Every discovery like this pushes the arrival of humans in various places further and further back in time. Until recently it was thought Australia was settled about 30,000 years ago, but there is evidence now for up to 55,000 ya.

    These sorts of finds are wonderful (IMHO) and the more we learn about our distant ancestors, the more they turn out to have been resourceful and clever.

    • by quenda ( 644621 )

      the more we learn about our distant ancestors, the more they turn out to have been resourceful and clever.

      Hardly. The 30,000y figure was simply the oldest known evidence. And people back then were extremely brutish compared to modern humans.
      While new discoveries push back the date of migration, there have been no surprises - no evidence of navigation, pottery or agriculture, just primitive stone tools.
      Compare even to the Polynesian expansion in the Pacific in recent millennia and there is a world of difference.

    • "the more we learn about our distant ancestors, the more they turn out to have been resourceful and clever."

      I get the point that putting back far away colonization from 30K to 45K years ago have an interesting impact on population demography or even sociology but "resourcefulness or cleverness"? The article also goes that line: "The find suggests that even at this early stage, humans were traversing the most frigid parts of the globe and had the adaptive ability to migrate almost everywhere."

      What else woul

      • The interesting part is that it means you had migration patterns 15 thousand years earlier than prior evidence suggests. It doesn't sound at all unrealistic to me, but it's nice to see good, hard evidence popping up to support the idea.
  • Is my ham sandwich a "Grisly find?"
  • Yeah, only now we spend 90% of our energy trying to prevent it... Oy, the bureaucrats' burden is a heavy one.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I have my suspicions that cavemen didn't suck on the tit of social services when they migrated somewhere, making the situation quite different indeed.

  • Can the arctic ocean be open during an ice age? It seems that if the arctic ocean stays open during the winter, the polar vortex would seek the path of least resistance and settle over a continent. The jet stream would change also. This could explain why palm pollen from the Caribien was found in core samples in northwestern Canada. It's kinda like what's going on now with our weather.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Considering carbon dating has been shown to be about as accurate as a politicians promises, they should have just said they were guessing at how long it had been there.

    • Considering carbon dating has been shown to be about as accurate as a politicians promises, they should have just said they were guessing at how long it had been there.

      (sniff) (sniff) .. I smell a creationist...

      • Considering carbon dating has been shown to be about as accurate as a politicians promises, they should have just said they were guessing at how long it had been there.

        (sniff) (sniff) .. I smell a creationist...

        Or possibly a scientist, since a scientists point out that Radioactive Carbon Dating is only reasonably accurate for up to about 40,000 years.

  • "Humans using primitive tools killed and we assume ate a giant fucking hairy elephant"

  • by Dr. Spork ( 142693 ) on Thursday January 14, 2016 @10:55PM (#51304831)
    Pedantic point: It's redundant to say "2000 kilometers south of the North Pole". Any point on the Earth's surface that's 2000 kilometers from the North Pole is automatically 2000 km south of the North Pole. There is no way for something to be west or east of the North Pole, and definitely not north, so naming the cardinal direction is pointless. It's south by necessity.
    • Yeah, why not something like 'northern Russia' [google.ca]?

      But I guess that would conflict with the mention of North America in the write-up, which makes no sense.
      • Here's the google map of the Yenisei Gulf in Russia:

        https://www.google.com/maps/@7... [google.com]

        If you use the Google Maps measure distance feature to measure distance to 90,0 on the map you get about 2000 km.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          There is no 90.0 on Google Maps. It uses Mercator projection, which puts the poles infinitely far away, thus they limit the display to approximately +/- 85 degrees.

        • heh - thanks for the map, that's where the link I posted goes to as well. ;)
    • Pedantic point: It's redundant to say "2000 kilometers south of the North Pole". Any point on the Earth's surface that's 2000 kilometers from the North Pole is automatically 2000 km south of the North Pole. There is no way for something to be west or east of the North Pole, and definitely not north, so naming the cardinal direction is pointless. It's south by necessity.

      Not to mention, which pole was north back then, and where were the geographic and magnetic north poles back then? Was that area tropical back then? Did the mammoth merely wander that far north after an encounter with man?

  • It is difficult to believe caveman hunted wholly-wooly mammoths with just stone tipped spears. The beast grew larger than modern asian elephants, about as big as the largest african elephant bulls and its body was covered in half a meter thick long, heavy greasy hair, almost like felt that easily stops thrown projectiles. The turnk would catapult people into LEO. More or less the biological equivalent of the AT-AT. Furthermore, it's a mammal with a large brain, not a bug with 2-bit DAC ladder neural system.

    • by Jesrad ( 716567 )

      That's OK, you have a right to feel entitled to your own ignorance.

    • That those prehistoric people were probably at least as intelligent as the average slashdotter, and they likely spent decades testing, reviewing, debating, and verbally sharing various hunting skills. It's likely that they had many ways of crippling or killing large game other than the ones we can see by marks left on old bones.

    • So what you're admitting is that our ancient ancestors could definitely show you a thing or two about hunting mammoths.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    They didn't even RTFA; they didn't find a grizzly, but a mammoth!

  • by ThatsNotPudding ( 1045640 ) on Friday January 15, 2016 @08:39AM (#51306189)
    I've read TFS several times and not one mention of an inquisitive bear! Come on, editors; up your game!
  • by tompaulco ( 629533 ) on Friday January 15, 2016 @09:30AM (#51306463) Homepage Journal
    Or someone from further south tried and failed to kill a mammoth and mammoths are migratory, as some of the great Pixar documentaries claim.
  • Mother Earth 45000 years ago was pissed off because there were all these humans up north, so she turned down the climate a notch and caused all these bitches to move to the middle where they are supposed to be. Then evil white republicans started spewing a lot of C02 into the air to heat things up again so they can build a tropical resort in Nunavut.

    Stop anthropogenic climate change now. It will create more useable land for people. We don't want that. We want all our land to be barren, cold, and owned b

We cannot command nature except by obeying her. -- Sir Francis Bacon

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