Scientists discovered ancient footprints and mammoth bones in what is now New Mexico. The discovery reignited debate on when the first humans lived in North America. According to a study published in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution last month, the recently discovered animal bones date back up to 37,000 years ago. The scientists behind the study now argue that the status of the bones indicates there were people living in America at that time.

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There has been a long-standing debate among scientists as to what time people might have arrived in North America. It is generally considered that the first Native Americans arrived in North America in about 10,000 B.C.

Related: Did you know convergent evolution is quite common?

According to the researcher, mammoth bones from one mother and her calf were found to have lived about 37,000 years ago. More interesting are the patterns on their fractures, which suggest they might have been butchered by humans. However, some scientists dispute this line of thinking, arguing that such fractures could happen naturally. 

Meanwhile, the latest “ghost footprints” were found in a desert in Utah a few weeks ago. Scientists estimate that they are about 12,000 years old, surpassing the generally agreed timeframe of humans inhabiting North America. However, other footprints had been discovered last year in New Mexico, dating back to 21,000 years ago.

The mammoth bones recently discovered are seen as the most concrete evidence so far that humans arrived in the Americas earlier than previously thought. Some scientists argue that the earliest humans might have arrived about 50, 000 years ago, walking on a land bridge between Siberia and Alaska. The researchers behind the latest study say the repetition of the fractures is an indication that they were butchered by humans. Further, they say that there are signs that fire might have been used on some of the bones.

“I think it’s a rock-solid radiocarbon date,” said Paleontologist Timothy Rowe, a professor at the Jackson School of Geosciences at the University of Texas in Austin. “Skeptics will put everything under the microscope, but I think we checked every box.”

Via NBC News

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