Did you know humans might have been living in your neighborhood 130,000 years ago?
I was visiting the San Diego Natural History Museum when my eyes fell upon an interesting display concerning the Cerutti Mastodon site.
Thirty years ago, during the expansion of State Route 54 in the South Bay, a team of researchers from the San Diego Natural History Museum discovered mastodon bones among cobbles. The bones appeared to have been intentionally broken. It was believed the stones, which had impact marks, had been used by humans to fracture the mastodon bones to extract marrow.
Using radiometric dating, the bones were found to be about 130,000 years old. If, indeed, early humans had worked these bones, that would mean humans were in North America about 100,000 years earlier than previously thought!
Many experts asserted the bones were broken due to the heavy machinery used for freeway construction. Two years ago, however, more evidence was obtained. Bone micro-residues were observed on the cobbles, which seems to confirm that ancient inhabitants of San Diego did indeed hammer at fresh, tasty mastodon bones!
If all of this excites your curiosity, the Wikipedia article concerning San Diego’s scientifically important Cerutti Mastodon site can be found here.
And here’s a detailed article about the discovery written in 2017.