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Picture that proves Man hunted the woolly mammoth

17 February 2014

This is the clearest evidence that our ancestors speared and killed the extinct giant.

'How did the weapon enter the body of the animal going through thick skin and flesh, and hit the bone?'. Picture: Kate Baklitskaya, Go East

These unique photographs seen by the world for the first time show the wounded vertebrae of the woolly mammoth found in Siberia. Forensic evidence proves the hole was made by a spear or javelin, meaning the huge creature was slain by ancient man some 13,470 years ago. 

It does not answer the conundrum that still puzzles scientists: why did the mammoths vanish from the face of the planet? Man's butchery may have been a factor, but can it really be the only one? Our exclusive pictures from Khanty-Mansiysk show the remains of a mammoth located a dozen years ago close to the confluence of the rivers Ob and Irtysh in the west of Siberia. 

The images show the thoracic vertebrae of a mammoth, which in all probability was marooned in a clay swamp when the hunters went in for the kill. 

It is believed the weapon was thrown with great force at the creature. The vertebrae is pierced by a cone-shaped hole resulting from the penetration of a notched point, and there are fragments of quartzite flakes lodged inside, according to Russian scientists. 

Pictures of the find until now have not been seen outside Russia or the scientific community. 

Picture that proves man hunted the woolly mammoth


Picture that proves man hunted the woolly mammoth

The depth of the spear hole is 23.5 mm and the width is between 7-10mm. Pictures: Kate Baklitskaya, Go East

The discovery was made at the Lugovskoe 'mammoth graveyard' by scientists Alexander Pavlov and Eugeny Mashchenko in a swampy area where thousands of bones of mammals - mainly mammoths - have been unearthed by scientists since the 1990s. It remains unclear to what extent our ancestors ate the woolly mammoth when other, perhaps more succulent, food sources were available. Yet a related discovery last year in Lugovskoe was the remains of a 13,270 year old fireplace belonging to early men in this region. 

The current theory is that mammoth bone was burned with charcoal, the fat from the bone giving a superior heat. Anton Rezvy, 39, head of the palaeontological department of the Khanty-Mansiysk Museum of Nature and Man, explained: 'The vertebra was found in Lugovskoe mammoth cemetery.'

The museum now holds the holed vertebrae.  

'This cemetery was not some place 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 struck there. 

'At Lugovskoe we found several thousand bones and we also studied the place using ground penetrating radar to define how much is left. We believe that there are still dozens of thousands of mammoth bones buried here. The vertebrae that our museum expedition found in autumn 2002 has a hole in it, and you can see the it was hit by a manmade made weapon. If you look closely inside the hole, you can see the piece of a stone flake. Such stone flakes were used by people of the Paleolithic Age to make weapons'. 

Picture that proves man hunted the woolly mammoth


Picture that proves man hunted the woolly mammoth


Picture that proves man hunted the woolly mammoth

Lugovskoe mammoth graveyard,  the remains of northern steppe elephant, a forebear of the mammoth, and a sreet view of Khanty-Mansiysk museum of Nature and Man. Pictures: Kate Baklitskaya, Go East

The depth of the spear hole is 23.5 mm and the width is between 7-10mm. 'Ancient man probably used a spear or dart,' Anton said. 'Many people ask how did the weapon enter the body of the animal going through thick skin and flesh, and hit the bone'.

He is convinced that the animal was alive, not dead, when it was forcibly struck by the weapon. 'There is much proof that ancient man used the mammoth for food, for example, there are traces of mammoth found on an ancient knife. But the direct proof, like this, that man was actually hunting the mammoth can be counted on the fingers of one hand.

'There is a dispute about how much humans influenced the extinction of the mammoth. Were mammoths actually hunted down by humans, or did the the animals become extinct because of cold? Some scientists use our find to prove the theory that man was the main reason for the mammoth's extinction. 

'But it is hard to make such an assumption is this particular case, because we have to take into consideration that the mammoth remains were found in a muddy area where many of them were getting stuck. So even if the humans were hunting them here, it was more killing animals that were already stuck in the mud and had no way to escape'.

'Many people ask how did the weapon enter the body of the animal going through thick skin and flesh and enter the bone.'


'Many people ask how did the weapon enter the body of the animal going through thick skin and flesh and enter the bone.'

'The vertebrae that our museum expedition found in autumn 2002 has a hole in it, and you can see the it was hit by a manmade made weapon. If you look closely inside the hole, you can see the piece of a stone flake'. Picture: Kate Baklitskaya, Go East

Anton doesn't rule out that elsewhere humans may have been more of a factor but says that 'in Russia most scientists believe that it was the climate conditions that was the greatest influence. 'At the same time in eastern Europe there are ancient human camp sites found with a lot of mammoth bones around it. The scientists dispute how they got there. Were ancient man hunting the mammoth actively or just collecting the mammoth bones and using them?

'I personally think that both humans and the climate could have influenced the mammoth's fate, but still we do not have enough proof to be sure humans  were hunting the mammoth all that much', Anton said. 

He is intrigued by the discovery of a mammoth bone-burning fire, which he has reconstructed in his impressive museum. 

'The 'coals' are not only wooden, but also comprise mammoth bone. So we can make a conclusion that the ancient people used mammoth bone to keep themselves warm as it contained fat, and the fire would last longer. 

'We made a reconstruction of the fire place, of how it looked long ago when people used to sit around it, do some manual work or eat and throw mammoth bones into the fire, mixing them with charcoal. The white coal you see is actually bone'.

Picture that proves man hunted the woolly mammoth


Picture that proves man hunted the woolly mammoth

'We made a reconstruction of the fire place, of how it looked long ago when people used to sit around it, do some manual work or eat and throw mammoth bones into the fire, mixing them with charcoal. The white coal you see is actually bone'. Below, Anton Rezvy, head of the palaeontological department of the Khanty-Mansiysk Museum of Nature and Man. Pictures: Kate Baklitskaya, Go East

The museum also has remains of northern steppe elephant, a forebear of the mammoth, which lived between 500,000 and 700,000 years ago, and is believed to have evolved in Siberia during the early Pleistocene epoch.

'It was found near Irtysh River close to the town of Gornopravdinsk, Khanty-Mansiysk region, which is around 120km from Khanty-Mansiysk,' said Mr Rezvy. 

'It is unique because it is the most northern find of a full skeleton of this elephant, which proves that these animals lived here. There are not many of them found in the world. These elephants mostly lived in Eurasia, and now we can say that they lived in the northern territory of the continent as well.

'Perhaps this is not the most impressive characteristic, but this is also the smallest of the steppe mammoth that were found. 

'Even though it's an elephant it's only 3.5 metres tall which was a normal size for a woolly mammoth as well. The steppe elephants in general were around 5 metres tall. Yet it is not a baby. This is a grown up male aged around 35 years old.

'It is quite rare when a skeleton is found like this, a full skeleton. Such discoveries can be counted in dozens around the world'. 

The reconstruction of the tip of the spear - or the dart - that hit the vertebrae, courtesy Khanty-Mansiysk museum of Nature and Man:


Comments (6)

This I believe is true!
Cecelia Marengo, Blackbut
24/10/2014 10:06
0
0
Be sure to read: "Evidence for deposition of 10 million tonnes of impact spherules across four continents 12,800 y ago"
http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2013/05/17/1301760110.abstract
Much evidence for a comet/meteorite impact that wiped out North American megafauna and the Clovis culture AND started the Younger Dryas glaciation.
There are many other papers on the subject.
Robert McK. Bird, Raleigh, NC, USA
07/08/2014 05:28
0
0
Paleontologists need to be more creative with their theories. First, could early man have pierced the skins of mammoths with simple spears, undoubtedly not. Early man was very likely a scavenger and the meat of dead mammoth in the tundra would have lasted for months. Secondly, could early man have obliterated the mammoth herds? Possibly, but not by hunting adult mammoths which would have been close to impossible to kill but by hunting the calves which would have been quite easy to hunt and kill. Say, calves from a week old to younger than yearlings. If we follow this thought process, this would have been a disaster for mammoth generations to follow.

Even a 25 to 30% rate of calf extermination by man would have been "the perfect storm" leading to mammoth depopulation and consequent disappearance.

Yet again, the climate theory seems more pertinent. Mammoths would have needed a prairie type environment to consume the enormous amounts of grasses needed for animals that large. If the grasses disappeared or were several feet under an ice age tundra, many would have starved during winter.

But for those paleontologists that insist on the early man connection, remember it was the calves that would have been the logical hunt, not the adult mammoths,
Pedro Maiz-Creel, Chihuahua, Mexico
14/03/2014 18:58
3
1
Great informative article.

The YouTube video at the end however does not work, and attempt to click in lower right and go to YouTube fails to find the video.

Would very much like to see a picture that clearly shows the chip of flint int he hole.
HeartlandLiberal, Indiana, USA
04/03/2014 23:46
4
0
They say a Palaeontologist with a bone is more dangerous than a dog with a bone ,but I don't give a damn !

Of course it's only a analytical theory in exactly what happened, the long distance past will never ever really be known.

However;exciting ,fascinating, exhilaritng theories of our past Fauna are the imaginations of a curious human mind,da da and it is what every explorer and palaeontologist must possess.

I cannot get enough of these stories and theories , it thrills me to read that our ancestors at great risk to themselves hunted down these huge now extinct beasts for sheer survival. The thought of starvation, freezing to death would be the only purpose these past human siberian warriors took such great perilous chances against another great siberian warrior ,the Woolly Mammoth .

I cram,devour these stories of our ancestral past with relish and sometimes with envy,yet the exact same pressures and reasons for survival still exist today, but in many diverse forms.

I know only too well that like the huge beast speared in the Vertebrae in the very distant past ,you're also using a spear to pierce my "Archilles heel" , Yes it is my absolute weakness,so Kate I grovel and beg for more .



Patrick .
Patrick Travers, Perth Australia
18/02/2014 20:38
1
1
This is a great read and intriguing pictures. Thanks Kate.
Peter Smyth, California
17/02/2014 22:05
4
1
1

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