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Prehistoric Scavengers May Have Crafted Clovis Points

Thursday, January 13, 2022

KENT, OHIO—Archaeologist Metin Eren of Kent State University suggests that Clovis points were more likely to have been used as knives to cut meat from already dead mammoths, or as dart tips to scare away other scavengers, than as weapons for killing such large animals, according to a Science News report. Using measurements taken from preserved Asian woolly mammoths and Columbian mammoths, Eren and his colleagues estimate that the layers of skin, fat, dense fur, and long outer hairs measured from seven to 12 inches for the woolly mammoth, and several inches less for a Columbian mammoth, which may not have had the thick layer of underfur. Eren notes that the animals’ internal organs were also protected by the bones of their rib cages. The researchers then shot replica Clovis points into clay blocks, and found that the Clovis points traveled an average of just seven inches through the material. Smaller points tended to travel deeper into the blocks than the larger ones, Eren explained, but their broad tips limited penetration. When the replica points were fired at oak boards, which are not as hard or dense as ribs, all but three points broke on the first shot. Yet broken points are not commonly found at presumed kill sites, Eren said. Read the original scholarly article about this research in Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports. To read about a campsite used by hunters of the Clovis culture 13,000 years ago, go to "Around the World: Michigan."

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