Ancient Bone Fragment Shows Man Hunted Woolly Mammoth’s 16,200 Years Ago

The unique 16,200-year-old chest vertebra with what is believed to be a spear wound is set to undergo state-of-the-art tests in search for the truth about the extinction of the giant beast.

Image Credit: Tomsk State University

Forensic analysis has so far concluded that a Woolly Mammoth’s bone features a hole made by a prehistoric javelin, which suggests what the prehistoric beasts were slain and hunted by our ancestors.

Scientists reveal that the depth of the spear hole is 23.5 mm and the width between 7-10mm.

The mortal blow was believed to have been delivered around 16,200 years ago, which is nearly 3,000 years earlier than previously believed. 

Now, scientists have created a video which reenacts the scene showing how ancient man hunted the woolly beasts. Upper Paleolithic hunters in the modern-day Khanty-Mansiyskregion are believed to have delivered a deep, oval-shaped mark in the vertebrae of the Woolly Mammoth.

In addition to the oval-shaped puncture, scientists also discovered traces of light-green quartzite, a material used by our ancestors to craft spearheads.

Scientists say that the animal’s bone does not show any signs of ‘bone healing’, which tells scholars that the hunter who hit the mark most likely believed the final strike.

The bone, dubbed by experts as the Mona Lisa of Geo-Archeology (because of the sheer information it has provided so far) has been delivered in Tomsk where an international team of Russian-Polish scientists will try and extract DNA and carry out a complete paleo-DNA analysis.

Image Credit: Tomsk State University, The Siberian Times

Dr. Sergey Leshchinsky, head of Tomsk State University’s Laboratory for the Mesozoic and Cenozoic Continental Ecosystem explained that “This is a very precious sample, which we hope will give us new information on the ecology of woolly mammoths during the time of their mass extinction.”

To understand more about the bone and the puncture, scientists will perform synchrotron studies and detailed tomography which will provide unique info on the micro-architecture of the bone tissue and the area around the wound without damaging the sample.

“We have previously carried similar studies, but with a smaller resolution and found that the mammoth suffered from osteoporosis. This time hopefully the level of equipment will allow us to go much further,” explained Dr. Leshchinsky.

The bone fragment was discovered by Alexander Pavlov and Eugeny Mashchenko in a swampy area where experts have come across thousands of bones of mammals – mainly mammoths – since the 1990s.

‘The vertebra was found in Lugovskoe mammoth cemetery,” said Anton Rezvy, head of the palaeontological department of the Khanty-Mansiysk Museum of Nature and Man.

“This cemetery was not someplace where mammoths were coming to die. It was just a natural place with a lot of blue clay which is rich with salt, and the scientists believe that the mammoths came there for the salt that contained in the clay and that many of them got stuck there,” he concluded.

Scientists argue that they have discovered several thousand bones at the Lugovskoe‘mammoth graveyard’ and the area was also swept using ground penetrating radar.

Scientists think that thousands of mammoth bones could remain buried at the site.

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