By Allen Best, Mountain Town News
Dr. Ian Miller, Dr. Joe Sertich, and Dr. Kirk Johnson look for bones uncovered by large excavator. Photo © Denver Museum of Nature & Science.
Earthquakes, people no longer prime suspects in deaths of ancient elephants
Snowmass considered exceptional portal into Ice Age changes
Do earthquakes explain all those mastodon bones discovered at Snowmass in 2010 and 2011? Not likely, say scientists, although they haven't completely shelved the idea.
And did humans kill a mammoth 50,000 years ago and then cache the meat for later use? Circumstantial evidence of rocks intermixed with bones suggests that was the case. If so, it would rank as one of the major scientific discoveries of the decade, putting people on North America some 36,000 years earlier than is now generally agreed by archaeologists.
That intriguing idea also remains on the shelf, just beyond touch for lack of corroborating evidence.
Discouraged? Hardly. Scientists still think the 6,000 bones plus leaves, pollen and other organic matter retrieved in two brief bursts of intense digging in 2010 and 2011 ranks as among the best time-capsule ever discovered from 50,000 to 130,000 years ago, the last glacial interlude.
“It’s one of the premier finds of the last decade, and arguably—because of the high elevation and the quality of preservation—I think it is one of the five top Pleistocene sites in North America,” says Ian Miller
, curator of paleontology at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science
. “It’s right up there with the mammoth site
at Hot Springs (South Dakota), La Brea
(tar pits, of Los Angeles,), and the other top finds.”
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