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A female woolly mammoth’s lifetime movements end in an ancient Alaskan hunter-gatherer camp

Tracking the movement of both mammoths and native Alaskans reveals their interactions.

Jan 17, 2024

Authors: Audrey G. Rowe, Clement P. Bataille, Sina Baleka, Evelynn A. Combs, Barbara A. Crass, Daniel C. Fisher, Sambit Ghosh, Charles E. Holmes, Kathryn E. Krasinski, François Lanoë, Tyler J. Murchie, Hendrik Poinar, Ben Potter, Jeffrey T. Rasic, Joshua Reuther, Gerad M. Smith, Karen J. Spaleta, Brian T. Wygal, and Matthew J. Wooller



Woolly mammoths in mainland Alaska overlapped with the region’s first people for at least a millennium. However, it is unclear how mammoths used the space shared with people. Here, we use detailed isotopic analyses of a female mammoth tusk found in a 14,000-year-old archaeological site to show that she moved ~1000 kilometers from northwestern Canada to inhabit an area with the highest density of early archaeological sites in interior Alaska until her death. DNA from the tusk and other local contemporaneous archaeological mammoth remains revealed that multiple mammoth herds congregated in this region. Early Alaskans seem to have structured their settlements partly based on mammoth prevalence and made use of mammoths for raw materials and likely food.

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Listing Image: Image from the article.