Archaeologists suggest that Paleo-Indians, known as Clovis culture, feasted on ancient ancestors of elephants called gomphothere.
Archaeologists have discovered 13,400 years Clovis weapons along with the bones of gomphothere from a ranch in northwestern Sonora, Mexico.
Gomphothere were widely spread in North America. The ancient elephant was smaller than mammoths and is believed to be of the same size as the modern elephant. However, the gomphothere had four tusks to defend itself.
Previously, archaeologists believed that gomphothere disappeared before the arrival of human beings, which was around 13,000 to 13,500 years ago, just around the late ice age. The latest fossil discovery makes them the last known gomphothere in North America.
Even though archaeologists have come upon several gomphothere fossils and Clovis artifacts, this is the first time they have been found together at one site. The archeological site from where the fossil and artifacts have been discovered is named "El Fin del Mundo" (the End of the Earth). The latest discovery marks the discovery of two extremes: the oldest Clovis site ever found by archaeologists and the discovery of fossils of the youngest gomphotheres in North America.
"The implications are pretty simple, although certainly not trivial - early human explorers of interior North America opportunistically targeted the largest Pleistocene animals as part of their cultural pattern, and this pattern probably started almost as soon as people had made their way south into the lower 48 states," says Gary Haynes, an archaeologist at the University of Nevada, Reno, who was not involved in the study.
The excavation team was led by Guadalupe Sanchez, of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México in Hermosillo, Mexico. Sanchez suggests that initially he thought the bones were of a bison as extinct bison were bigger than the modern day bison.
The Clovis people were hunter-gatherers and made distinctive stone tools. However, the archaeologists discovered a quartz blade, which may have been used to hunt and kill bigger animals like gomphotheres. The archaeologists also discovered spear heads, cutting tools and projectile tips from the site. The bones of the two gomphotheres suggest that they were 12 years at the time they died.
The proximity and the position of the Clovis weapons found at the site along with the bones of the two gomphotheres suggest that they were in fact killed by the Clovis people.