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Humans visited Arctic earlier than thought

Weapon marks found on mammoth bones dating to 45,000 years ago

2:00pm, January 14, 2016
mammoth bones

EARLY ARCTIC HUNTERS  Mammoth remains (left) dating to 45,000 years ago and found in Arctic Siberia show signs of hunting injuries (right) perimortem (red arrows) and postmortem (blue arrows). The discovery puts humans in the Arctic earlier than previously thought.

A frozen mammoth carcass in Siberia hints that humans roamed the Arctic earlier than researchers had thought.

Cuts and scrapes on the mammoth’s bones came from human hunting weapons. And dating of the bones puts humans well north of the Arctic Circle 45,000 years ago, scientists report in the Jan. 15 Science. Researchers had assumed that humans didn’t reach the Arctic until between 30,000 and 35,000 years ago.

The find shows that humans worked out how to cope with the Arctic’s extreme cold and sunless winters much earlier than experts thought, says Robin Dennell, a paleoanthropologist at the University of Sheffield in England who wasn’t involved in the work.

At about 66.5° N latitude, the Arctic Circle skims the top of Canada and Russia.

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