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2 August 2014
Early Clovis hunting ground discovered in Mexico

Have you ever heard of a gomphothere? You would be forgiven if you haven't as this remarkable animal was about the same size and appearance as a modern elephant but was actually a cousin to the extinct mammoth.
     Back in 2007/2008 archaeologists from the University of Arizona (USA) were excavating in the Sonora Desert in northwest Mexico, when they uncovered the bones of a very large mammal. It was not until later, when they found a jaw bone, that they fully realised what they had found. They had actually uncovered the remains of two gomphotheres, which were radio carbon dated at 11,390 BCE.
     As their excavations progressed they also uncovered evidence of human activity, including weapons and tools from the Clovis Culture. These were in juxtaposition to the bones of the gomphotheres, leading to the conclusion that the animals had been hunted.
     Vance Halliday, the leader of the team, is quoted as saying "This is the first Clovis gomphothere, it's the first archaeological gomphothere found in North America, it's the first evidence that people were hunting gomphotheres in North America, and it adds another item to the Clovis menu".
     The team discovered much more associated with this Clovis settlement and the full findings were published in July 2014, in the 'Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences', with the summary statement "These data expand our understanding of the age range for Clovis, Clovis diet, raw material preference, and the late Pleistocene mega fauna assemblage of North America and provide evidence for a southern origin of the Clovis techno complex."

Edited from Popular Archaeology, Western Digs (14 July 2014)

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