The Lost Hunters of San Diego  

 

 

"A small band of hunters in the way of searching for food came across a mastodon carcass. Those people were part of a group that crossed from Asia years ago and  was slowly moving South. But they weren't numerous. In the new environment with their  primitive skills of tool-making they did not have much chance for surviving . Despite time to time a babies were born, people kept declining in numbers . There were too many predators, which they did not know how to deal with - giant bears and lion-like beasts with huge stabbing teeth. The people were doomed. 

  "The predator approached the site and noticed the two-legged creatures which were wandering around the old mastodon carcass ."

"The predator approached the site and noticed the two-legged creatures which were wandering around the old mastodon carcass ."

The mastodon seemed recently killed, but besides the tough skin, not much meat was left from the scavengers. But the hunters were experienced in finding food so they noticed the bones were intact and they knew there is a good food inside them. Those bones were thick and strong so men needed something to break them in order to reach the nutritious bone marrow. They looked around for any suitable stones but there weren't any in close proximity so they had to walk some distance until they found few. The hunters brought the  stones back to the carcass and started hitting the bones in attempt to break them. The sounds of the hitting spread around and attracted the attention of a mighty local predator.  The predator approached the site and noticed the two-legged creatures which were wandering around the old mastodon carcass . Although the predator did not know man, those creatures appeared weak and vulnerable , so this was enough to  turn it on a hunting mode. The hunt began. For such a master of ambush it was not a problem to get close to its likely prey unnoticed. Besides the people were quite involved in their labor so they did not even have a chance to notice the approaching  predator. When they saw it it was already late. It took seconds for the rushing  killing machine to reach the surprised humans and to take down one of them. The two other men ran quickly as fast and as far away as they could.  The predator satisfied its killing instincts  and did not chase the fugitives. The people already from a distance away turned towards the place where they lost their comrade but there was nothing they can do, so they kept running away. One less man - again. "

  "The people were quite involved in their labor so they did not even have a chance to notice the approaching  predator. When they saw it it was already late."

"The people were quite involved in their labor so they did not even have a chance to notice the approaching  predator. When they saw it it was already late."

This scenario of course is a speculation.  The "predator" in this case can be a  Smilodon, or an Arctodus or a jaguar (all of them depicted at different stage of the attack) but also Homotherium or Dire wolves.  Although the narrative is  focused on predators it is one of numerous scenarios that could  be narrated after the recent publication of a more than 20 years old finding which broke on heated discussions about the presence of people (Hominins ) around 130 KY ago in North America. 

 

https://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v544/n7651/full/nature22065.html

 

The online reactions on the publication were interesting and ranging from this is impossible, controversial, to this is sensational, rewriting the history etc. 

 

But is it any of those?

 

Is it impossible? Actually no, it is quite possible.  There were multiple migrations of mammal species older than this one so why not people (Hominins). There are no known Hominins of North East Asia, but it is also unknown how and when jaguars and puma crossed over to America. In Eurasia there are no remains of both east of Kazakhstan but yet they crossed over. 

 

  "It took seconds for the rushing  killing machine to reach the surprised humans and to take down one of them. The two other men ran quickly "

"It took seconds for the rushing  killing machine to reach the surprised humans and to take down one of them. The two other men ran quickly "

Is the interpretation involving presence of humans controversial? Well, if someone claims human activity in a site of 60 million years of age that would be controversial or a fossilized laptop is found in a 130 KY site - that would be controversial too. And also those would be sensational. But proposing that some bones were broken by people hitting them with large stones 130 000 years ago that is quite OK  and is complete in order with the rest of our knowledge. 

 

Rewriting the history - only if an uninterrupted genetic and/or cultural connection between this possible early migration and the later Pre-Clovis and Clovis populations would be established then rewriting the history can be discussed. But considering the status of the matter this is unlikely.  If the San Diego migration indeed took place it was limited and did not lead to establishment of a viable long lasting population. There are some examples of mammals we know migrated from Asia to America but never got wide distribution and have quite a limited fossil record  - Dinofelis, Megantereon and Chasmaporthetes for instance. The people we know as Clovis likely arrived later independently with no connection to the early migrations. There are other examples of such multiple independent migrations -  for example Lynx , Panthera  and seems the mammoths and of course not to forget the Vikings, which came to North America before the Spaniards. They lived  there for while but were not able to establish viable long-lasting population.  

  

 

The fact that the publication is in "Nature" seemed strange ( for me and apparently for many others), but after careful reading, it is clear that the study  indeed deserves to be published in the most prestigious scientific journal in the world. Technically it meets all the requirements for this. It is using innovative scientific method, original data, interdisciplinary significance of the conclusions (Although in the case the conclusions are not enough supported. But this seems not to be a problem since in "Nature" they have forgotten to include in the requirements that besides from being of interdisciplinary significance, it would be nice the conclusions to be proven. ) 

 

According to some online publications now the researchers are trying to improve the study by searching of some way to find evidence that the large  "geologically distinct" stones were in contact with the bones. For example, looking for traces of collagen on the stone surface. In addition attempts are in process to independently verify  the age of 130 KY. 

However, this is not enough. The bones and the stones can be in contact for reasons different from the proposed human activity of using the stones by people in attempt to brake the bones. If the situation took place somewhere in Eurasia the lack of the actual human fossils would not be an issue. In Eurasia  the interpretation of the site  would be in a different context, a context established on the base of existence of real human remains of that respective age.   

But in America, until actual human remains or artifacts with undeniable artificial origin at this particular age are found the question will stay open.