A startling discovery of a Stone Age slaughterhouse has revealed that ancient Americans were hunting and butchering prehistoric ancestors of elephants in Chile nearly 13,000 years ago.
Scientists have unearthed the fossilised remains of an elephant-like species, called ‘gomphotheres’.
The creatures were said to be around three metres tall and weighed up to four tonnes, about the size of a modern African bush elephant.
Scientists also found cut marks on the animals’ bones that show they had been expertly butchered with stone tools.
Newsflash obtained a statement from the Catalan Institute of Human Paleoecology and Social Evolution (IPHES) on Monday, 28th November, saying (in English) that “new evidence” shows the “interaction between human groups and ancient relatives of elephants in Chile dating back 13,000 years.”
The footage, obtained from the IPHES, shows a recreation of ancient humans interacting with the elephant-like species.
Although they looked like modern elephants. they do not belong to the same family, although their exact lineage and relationship are still unclear.
The IPHES added: “Between September 12th and 26th, the fourth consecutive archaeological excavation campaign was carried out at the Taguatagua 3 site (San Vicente de Taguatagua, Central Chile).
“This excavation campaign is a Chilean-Spanish scientific project led by researchers from the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, the Institute of Engineering Sciences (O’Higgins University), and the Catalan Institute of Human Paleoecology and Social Evolution (IPHES-CERCA).”
They said that the dig site, the result of international cooperation, has been worked on since 2019 and that it has turned the “Taguatagua 3 site into a global benchmark for studying the first human populations in South America, the last of the continents to be occupied by our species.”
They said that the dig site boasts over “a hundred fossil remains of gomphotheres”.
They described the species as “an extinct relative of current elephants, which were killed and processed by human groups of hunter-gatherers more than 12,000 years ago.”
The experts also said that they had recovered “lithic tools used for these activities”.
They explained: “These stone instruments show a high degree of sophistication in their production and the use of high-quality raw materials, some obtained with stones from hundreds of kilometres from the site.
“These findings, together with those of previous years and the documentation of bonfires associated with these camps, make the Taguatagua 3 site an obligatory reference to explain the first human occupation of Chile, and in context, of South America.”
And there could be much more waiting to be discovered, with the ITHES saying that “currently, the works have made it possible to excavate 20 m2 of extension, although the full extension of the deposit is unknown and could reach several hundred metres.” (sic)
The dig site has been a real press approved for the period, with the ITHES saying that “during previous campaigns, fossil remains of gomphotheres, American horses, deer, and thousands of remains of minor fauna have been recovered: from birds to small mammals, as well as amphibians, fish, and reptiles that have been preserved thanks to the slow dynamics of lagoon deposition of the reservoir.
“Much of the fossil remains show evidence of the use of fire for cooking and subsequent consumption. The site’s preservation and, specifically, the conservation of organic remains (fauna and flora remains) has been favored because it is the setting of an ancient lake.”
They said that one of the highlights of this year’s discoveries was the remains of ancient elephant bones that featured marks made on them with sharp instruments.
They said: “These documented marks on the bones are the product of the processing and fleshing of the deceased animals.”
The ITHES said that the gomphotheres are “an extinct species of relatives of elephants that lived in South America until precisely 12,000-10,000 years ago, when they disappeared from the record throughout the continent, coinciding with the colonization and dispersal of the human species in this part of the world.”
They said that the animals could weigh more than four tonnes and reach three metres in height, making them one of the largest land mammals in the area at the time.
They said that the systematic exploitation of the species coincided with the arrival of first humans in the area, “enriching the debate on whether the human species was the causal agent, or a simple observer, of the extinction of one of the most surprising animals that inhabited South America.”
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