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There’s a great deal of evidence for that kind of activity at older sites in other parts of the world, he noted. Mandel, a geoarchaeologist at the University of Kansas who was not involved in the study, found it hard to see how the rocks and bones could come together without the help of people. But other archaeologists said the bone fractures and rock scratches were unconvincing.“They present evidence that the broken stones and bones could have been broken by humans,” said Vance T.Holliday, an archaeologist at the University of Arizona.Taken together, the findings fit what is called the Beringian Standstill hypothesis: Humans moved from Siberia onto the Bering Land Bridge linking Asia and North America about 25,000 years ago, the idea goes, but were stopped by enormous glaciers.

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The team discovered more scattered bone fragments, all of which seemed to have come from a single mastodon. The thick bones were broken and smashed, and near the animal were five large rounded stones. Deméré and his colleagues invited other experts to help determine how the bones were broken apart.

The ancestors of Europeans, Asians, and Australians did not expand out of Africa until somewhere between 50,000 and 80,000 years ago, according to recent studies.

But other kinds of humans might have made the journey to North America much earlier.

“It’s kind of hard to envision a carnivore strong enough to break a mastodon leg bone,” he said.

When he and his colleagues closely examined the rocks found near the mastodon fossils, they also found scratch marks.

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