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23 January 2011
Evidence of contact between Humans and extinct American elephants

Mexican archaeologists discovered 3 Clovis projectile heads associated to remains of a family of extinct elephant-like animals called gomphotheres at least 12,000 years ago. The finding, made in the northern region of the Mexican state of Sonora, is relevant because these are the first evidences in North America of this animal linked to the human species. The finding opens the possibility of the coexistence of humankind with gomphotheres, animals similar to mammoths, but smaller, in this region of America, which contrasts with theories that declare that this species disappeared 30,000 years ago in this region of America and did not coexist with humans.
     The discovery took place in early January 2011 in El Fin del Mundo, Sonora by researchers from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), during the third field season at the site identified as a hunting and quartering area during the Pleistocene. This finding completes a scene in which archaeologists visualized how Clovis groups hunted this elephant ancestor. "This is an unprecedented finding in Mexico since it is the first time that projectile heads are found associated to a bone bed of this kind of proboscides. There is no other Clovis archaeological site where gomphotheres have been found, not even in the United States, where most important Clovis Culture findings have been registered, and these vestiges are dated between 10,600 and 11,600 years" informed archaeologist Guadalupe Sanchez, director of the Fin del Mundo Research Project. "The discovery took place in the same archaeological context where in 2008 gomphothere bones and different lithic tools were found on the surface, among them, a quartz crystal Clovis head".
      The INAH archaeologist Natalia Martinez, head of the field research, explained that Clovis projectile heads were discovered in the point named Localidad 1, the remainder of a swamp with deposits of the Pleistocene and Holocene eras, and were freed by scraping carefully a hard soil block. The lithic artifacts manufactured by Clovis people to hunt great animals, were located a few centimeters under the gomphothere discovered in previous field seasons part of the research project conducted by the INAH, the University of Arizona and the National Geographic Society.
     Clovis people are also known as hunters of mammoths, one of 3 proboscide species that lived in America, being the other 2 the mastodon and the gomphothere. The last was the smallest and the earliest to appear in the Americas. Gomphotheres have only been found associated to humans in South America, and the southernmost Clovis heads were found in Costa Rica; human evidence associated with proboscides was limited mastodons and mammoths, until now.

Edited from ArtDaily (23 January 2011)

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