An ancestor of the elephant once believed to have disappeared from North America before humans ever arrived there roamed the continent longer than previously thought – and was hunted by early man.
Archaeologists have discovered artifacts of the prehistoric Clovis culture mingled with the bones of two gomphotheres – an ancient ancestor of the elephant – at an archaeological site in northwestern Mexico.
The discovery suggests that the Clovis – the earliest widespread group of hunter-gatherers to inhabit North America – likely hunted and ate gomphotheres.
The members of the Clovis culture were already well-known as hunters of the gomphotheres' cousins, mammoths and mastodons.
Although humans were known to have hunted gomphotheres in Central America and South America, this is the first time a human-gomphothere connection has been made in North America, says archaeologist Vance Holliday of the University of Arizona, who co-authored a new paper on the findings, published this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
... Gomphotheres were smaller than mammoths – about the same size as modern elephants.