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KU geoarchaeologist finds possible clues to earlier human existence in Kansas than previously believed

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Friday, July 26, 2013, at 11 a.m.

A geoarchaeologist from the University of Kansas has found yet more possible clues in Kansas that humans might have been in North America earlier than science has so far taught, the University of Kansas said in a news release Friday.

The latest find Rolfe Mandel is studying involves 15,500-year-old mammoth bones found in 2011 northeast of Scott City, in west-central Kansas. Researchers also found human artifacts – stone flakes made from tool-making – about 50 yards away, in the same layer of soil.

“It was intriguing to find a knapping pile and mammoth bones close together in the same geologic layer,” Mandel said in the release. He is a geoarchaeologist at the Kansas Geological Survey and a professor in the KU anthropology department.

“If we can determine that the people who created the flakes also killed the mammoth, it will prove that humans were in the Central Plains much earlier than currently proven.”

It was Mandel in recent years who rolled back the known time for humans in the Central Plains to 13,000 years ago. That time period was verified at a site he and other researchers dug into near Kanorado on the Colorado state line.

The stone flakes found at the Scott City site are impossible to date, so the site is so far inconclusive, he said in the release. So his team is digging up the bones to see whether they can find any stone or other human artifacts with them. They have so far uncovered only about 7 percent of the animal, he said in the release.

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