Revolutionary Discovery: Ancient Sloth-Bone Pendants Redefine Human History in the Americas”

Revolutionary Discovery:  Three giant sloth bones were found in Brazil by archaeologists, challenging our understanding of the first Americans. At the Santa Elina rock shelter, these ancient bones show signs of human manipulation, suggesting they were used as pendants. These personal ornaments, estimated to be between 25,000 and 27,000 years old, are the oldest in the Americas and the only ones made from giant sloth bones.

Astonishing Artefacts

The rock shelter’s osteoderms included three sloth-bone pendants, according to Brazilian palaeontologist Thais Pansani. Sloths have armadillo-like osteoderms on their skin. Extinct giant sloth Glossotherium phoenesis had these osteoderms. Scientists have trouble dating the site’s rock art, which depicts animals and humans.

Giant Sloth Size

Glossotherium phoenesis weighed 600 kilogrammes (1,323 pounds), larger than most brown bears. This giant sloth was small, but some ancient sloth species were so large that their fossilised burrows have become walkable caves in southern Brazil.

Analysis and Experiments

The polishing and hole placement give the artefacts their unique pendant shape, according to Mírian Pacheco, a professor and researcher at the Laboratory of Paleobiology and Astrobiology at the Federal University of São Carlos. The researchers examined modified and unmodified osteoderms from fossilised bones and modern armadillo osteoderms, the closest analogue, to understand how these pendants were made. Microscopic marks on the bones indicate human polishing before fossilisation.

Human-Giant Sloth Coexistence

Pacheco believes humans and giant sloths shared Santa Elina. Herbivores with digging claws, giant sloths were harmless to humans. These low-metabolism animals moved on all fours but could stand up to reach food in trees. It is unclear whether humans saw these creatures as threats or as part of their environment.

Estimating Artefact Age

To protect the rare pendants, direct dating was not done. Sediment, charcoal, and more giant sloth bones were dated in the same layer. These dates indicate that the pendants are 27,000–25,000 years old.

Tracing Human Occupation

Archaeologists debate whether modern humans colonised North and South America. Recent evidence suggests that early humans reached South America before 16,000 years ago, contrary to the beliefs of many experts. New Mexico’s 21,000–23,000-year-old fossilised human footprints have shaped this debate.

Revolutionary Discovery

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Historic Human Occupations

Pacheco’s hypothesis of older American human occupations is supported by the Santa Elina artefacts’ age. Recent advances in noninvasively extracting ancient DNA from bone artefacts offer promising future research. This innovative technique has already revealed fascinating details from a pierced deer tooth found in a Russian cave, likely used as a pendant.

Research and Future Opportunities

Pacheco says the team is investigating whether fossilisation and weathering caused sloth-bone pendant substitutions. Extraction of genetic material from well-preserved artefacts may be possible.

Conclusion Of Revolutionary Discovery

Recent Proceedings of the Royal Society B findings shed light on early human presence in the Americas. This discovery shows our ancestors’ complex relationship with the continent’s fascinating megafauna. We learn more about human migration and cultural evolution with each new discovery. The Santa Elina artefacts show early humans’ ingenuity and creativity, revealing their lives and complex interactions with their environment.

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