Saturday, April 09, 2011

news from KANSAS that will shake up the world

Kansas evidence may predate Texas discovery

The Wichita Eagle

Artifacts may rewrite history

COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Michael Waters said evidence already found in Kansas might shake up archaeology soon.

“Kansas is right in the bulls-eye for activity by the Paleo Indians,” said Waters, a professor of anthropology and geography at Texas A&M and director of Center for the Study of the First Americans.

Two sites worked by Rolfe Mandel, a geoarchaeologist with the Kansas Geological Survey, and others near Kanorado and at Lovewell Reservoir in Jewell County might roll back the time by thousands of years.

At Lovewell years ago, fossil hunters found broken-up bones of mammoths; the site has been dated to 22,000 years ago, 6,000 years older than what Waters found. A colleague of Waters and Mandel, Steven Holen, has shown through experiments that the only way those bones could have been broken was by people smacking them with large stones, to get at the marrow or to break the bone to make tools.

Waters said Holen’s work may have already paved the way to the next breakthrough. When critics said the Lovewell bones could have been broken by predators, Holen showed that predators chew the ends of bones but can’t break the middle of an elephant’s leg bone, as was done at Lovewell. When critics said the bones could have broken when stepped on by elephants, Holen showed that elephants didn’t break bones at Lovewell. But when he hit elephant bones with large stones, he produced spiral fractures and percussion craters looked much like those at Lovewell.

Holen, the curator of archaeology at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, said he’s got a hypothesis that could drastically push back the time when humans came. All over the continent, he said, mammoth bones were broken up after humans came in a way far different from how natural processes had broken them before; his hypothesis is that we’ll one day be able to know, from studying those broken bones, about how long ago it was that hunters showed up and did it.

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