Does This Amazon Rock Art Depict Extinct Ice Age Mammals?

The animals painted in ocher in Colombia may include giant ground sloths and other creatures that vanished from the Americas. But some researchers say the art has a more recent origin.

#amazon-jungle, #animals, #archaeology-and-anthropology, #art, #colombia, #endangered-and-extinct-species, #ice-age, #paleontology, #philosophical-transactions-of-the-royal-society-b-journal, #research, #sloths-animals, #your-feed-science

Why Was This Ancient Tusk 150 Miles From Land, 10,000 Feet Deep?

A discovery in the Pacific Ocean off California leads to “an ‘Indiana Jones’ mixed with ‘Jurassic Park’ moment.”

#fossils, #ice-age, #mammoths-animals, #monterey-bay-aquarium-research-institute, #oceans-and-seas, #pacific-ocean, #paleontology, #reproduction-biological, #research, #your-feed-animals, #your-feed-science

Ancient Footprints Push Back Date of Human Arrival in the Americas

Human footprints found in New Mexico are about 23,000 years old, a study reported, suggesting that people may have arrived long before the Ice Age’s glaciers melted.

#archaeology-and-anthropology, #geology, #glaciers, #ice-age, #new-mexico, #north-america, #paleontology, #research, #science-journal, #white-sands-national-monument-nm, #your-feed-science

Someone stabbed a cave bear in the head with a spear 35,000 years ago

Someone stabbed a cave bear in the head with a spear 35,000 years ago

Enlarge (credit: Gimranov et al. 2021)

During the last Ice Age, more than 100 cave bears died in Imanay Cave, a 100-meter-long corridor of stone in Russia’s southern Ural Mountains. The dead bears, along with a cave lion and a few other Pleistocene mammals, left behind nearly 10,000 bones, which have mostly worn down to small fragments over the millennia. Most of them were so-called small cave bears, Ursus spelaeus eremus, notable for being smaller than the so-called large cave bear, Ursus spelaeus—and for their apparent habit of dying en masse while hibernating through the harsh Pleistocene winters, leaving behind huge assemblages of bones for modern paleontologists to find.

Most of the cave bear bones found in Eurasia, including the ones at Imanay Cave, show no signs of violence, butchering, or gnawing. They seem to have died quietly, perhaps of cold, starvation, or illness. But while cleaning one cave bear skull from Imanay, Dmitry Gimranov of the Ural Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences and his colleagues noticed a rather suspicious hole in the parietal bone, near the back of the skull.

The lower edge of the hole is a gentle curve with a flattened base, while the upper edge is more uneven and widens sharply in the middle. Its shape is strikingly similar to the cross-section of stone projectile points unearthed in the same layer of cave sediment as most of the bear bones. Those points tend to have a flat ventral (or lower) side and a more curved dorsal (or upper) side with a sharp rib of stone sticking up along the center. And they’re about the same size as the hole in the bear skull.

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#ancient-people-did-stuff, #anthropology, #archaeology, #bears, #cave-bears, #hunter-gatherers, #ice-age, #pleistocene, #science, #zooarchaeology

Horse Fossil, Possibly From the Ice Age, Is Found in a Las Vegas Backyard

Workers found the bones, which could be up to 14,000 years old, during the construction of a pool.

#excavation, #fossils, #horses, #ice-age, #joshua-bonde, #las-vegas-nev, #matthew-perkins, #paleontology

Where Does the Columbian Mammoth Come From?

Genomic data — the oldest ever recovered from a fossil — reveals the origin and evolution of the Columbian mammoth.

#dna-deoxyribonucleic-acid, #fossils, #genetics-and-heredity, #ice-age, #mammoths-animals, #nature-journal, #paleontology, #research, #your-feed-science

Listen to haunting notes from an 18,000-year-old conch shell trumpet

Color photo of a person with a conch shell raised to their mouth, silhouetted against a red-painted cave wall.

Enlarge / Archaeologists in 1931 found the conch shell near the entrance of Marsoulas Cave. This is a reconstruction of where and how the shell might have been played. (credit: G. Tosello)

After 18,000 years of silence, an ancient musical instrument played its first notes. The last time anyone heard a sound from the conch shell trumpet, thick sheets of ice still covered most of Europe.

University of Toulouse archaeologist Carole Fritz and her colleagues recently recognized the shell as a musical instrument. To understand more about how ancient people crafted a trumpet from a 31cm (1 foot) long conch shell, the archaeologists used high-resolution CT scans to examine the shell’s inner structure: delicate-looking whorls of shell and open chambers, coiled around a central axis, or columella. A series of overlapping photographs and careful measurements became a full-color, 3D digital model of the shell, and image enhancement software helped reveal how Magdalenian people had decorated the instrument with red ocher dots.

And in a lab at the University of Toulouse, a horn player and musicology researcher became the first person in 18,000 years to play the conch shell. The musician blew into the broken tip, or apex, of the shell and vibrated his lips as if he were playing a trumpet or trombone. Very carefully, he coaxed three loud, clear, resonant notes from the ancient instrument:

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#acoustics, #ancient-people-did-stuff, #anthropology, #archaeology, #cave-paintings, #conch-shells, #experimental-archaeology, #ice-age, #magdalenian, #music, #musical-instruments, #musicology, #paleolithic-europe, #science

The Leftovers Route to Dog Domestication

If ancient hunters ate the juicy fat parts of their prey and gave wolves the lean meat, it could have been the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

#archaeology-and-anthropology, #arctic-regions, #dogs, #finland, #ice-age, #research, #university-of-exeter, #wolves, #your-feed-science

A Wolf Pup Mummy From the Ancient Arctic

Melting permafrost yields secrets of how a 6-week-old wolf puppy lived and died.

#arctic-regions, #current-biology-journal, #global-warming, #ice-age, #mummies-and-mummification, #paleontology, #wolves, #your-feed-animals, #your-feed-science, #yukon-beringia-interpretive-center, #yukon-territory

People built bone circles at the edge of ice sheets, and we don’t know why

People built bone circles at the edge of ice sheets, and we don’t know why

Enlarge (credit: Alexander Pryor)

As the last Ice Age tightened its hold on Europe, a group of people living near the Don River piled dozens of mammoth bones into a 12.5m (30ft) wide circle. They may have lived in the shelter of the mammoth bones for a while, huddling around fragrant fires of conifer wood and mammoth bone and making stone tools. But the traces they left are so light that it seems they didn’t stay long—or maybe they only visited occasionally.

A truly mammoth structure

Archaeologists found the bone circle in 2015. It’s one of about 70 mammoth-bone circles scattered around eastern Europe and western Russia, and it’s one of three within a few hundred square meters of each other near the modern village of Kostenki, about 500km (310 miles) south of Moscow. Excavations unearthed the first bone circle at Kostenki during the 1960s. A second structure nearby now lies buried under construction on private land. The third bone circle at Kostenki, discovered in 2015, is the largest and the oldest structure of the sort ever found.

Fragments of charcoal from inside the circle, along with samples of mammoth bone and ivory, radiocarbon-dated to around 20,000 years ago, during the coldest stage of the Last Glacial Maximum. Ice sheets several kilometers thick stretched southward across most of northern and western Europe. But people somehow made a living on the cold, inhospitable steppes just southeast of the glaciers. They also built huge circles out of mammoth bones—archaeologists just aren’t sure why.

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#ancient-europe, #ancient-people-did-stuff, #archaeology, #ice-age, #last-glacial-maximum, #mammoths, #pleistocene, #russian-archaeology, #science