Thursday, Feb 22 2024
All Cities
Choose Your City
'Siberia is a home to the cultures of indigenes, including people whose ancestors migrated to the Americas'

20,000-year-old mammoth murder established: but was it committed by first American migrants?

By 0 and 0 and 0
13 November 2019


The sceptics suggested that the ‘spear’ wound was a bone formation. Picture: The Siberian Times

Woolly mammoth remains with ‘traces of butchering’ were found on Kotelny Island in the Russian Arctic Ocean in June this year. 

When the remains were brought to Yakutsk, regional capital of vast Yakutia, experts immediately suspected that they found a broken bone tip of a spear in the beast’s shoulder blade.

Butchering signs were visible on the skull and ribs, they believed.

Mammoth's blade with the spear tip stuck inside

Mammoth's blade with the spear tip stuck inside

Mammoth's blade GV

Innokenty Pavlov with the blade

Experts immediately suspected that they found a broken bone tip of a spear in the beast’s shoulder blade. Pictures: The Siberian Times

After some scientists expressed doubt about this conclusion, as reported in Moscow, detailed tests have been conducted and prove the original thesis, palaeontologist  Dr Albert Protopopov has told The Siberian Times. 

The sceptics suggested that the ‘spear’ wound was a bone formation, and butchering traces were made by the metal tools of tusk hunters in the 20th century. 

A computer scan of the shoulder blade of the ancient animal - known as Pavlov’s Mammoth after its finder Innokenty Pavlov - was made in Yakutsk by the joint team of Russian and Japanese scientists on 11 November.

Mammoth's skull with the chopped hole

Mammoth's skull was chopped by some stone tool to extract the brain. Picture: Academy of Sciences of Sakha (Yakutia)

'The computer scan proved that it is really the broken spear tip inside the shoulder blade,’ announced Dr Protopopov.

‘The scan showed that the alleged tip significantly differs from the blade bone by density, so now we are completely sure that this is the part of the spear tip, allegedly made of bone.' 

Separately, analysis of washouts from the edges of chop marks on the skull and tusks were conducted at the Russian Federal Forensic-Medical Examination Centre in Moscow.

'The analysis showed that there are no traces of metal in the washouts,’ he said.

Butchering traces

Butchering traces

Butchering traces

Butchering signs were visible on the skull and ribs. Pictures: Academy of Sciences of Sakha (Yakutia)

‘That means that the skull and the tusks were chopped with some stone tool.

‘Initially the experts doubted that such traces could be left by a stone tool, but the analyses proved that this is exactly what it was.’

He said: 'We also washed the bones and found numerous traces of butchering on them. 

‘Back in the summer we spotted only the traces on the ribs.


Tool blank made of mammoth's tusk

Ivory chips left by ancient hunters

Ivory chips left by ancient hunters

The tusks were chopped off to make the tools. There left several tool blanks and the chips. Pictures: Academy of Sciences of Sakha (Yakutia)

‘But now we see many more traces on the ribs, from both sides, on the other shoulder blade, on the frontal and occipital part of the skull - as if they removed the skin and cut off the trunk, which was a delicacy.

‘Further, we see the traces on the limb bones. 

‘The traces are from a knife and axe.’

He believes ancient man ‘cut all the meat from this mammoth, severed the trunk, removed the brain and pulled out bone marrow from all the limbs. 

Ivory tool

Ivory tool

Ivory tool used to extraxt the bone marrow from the bones. Pictures: Academy of Sciences of Sakha (Yakutia)

‘This is probably the first mammoth that has so many traces of butchering. 

'The spear tip in the shoulder proves very clearly that this mammoth was hunted by people. 

‘It was kind of dart, possibly made of mammoth tusk, but this will be clear when we take away the tip for the tests.

‘It got into the blade and broke, leaving the tip inside.’

Mammoth's skeleton

Pavlov mammoth's skeleton at the lab. Pictures: Academy of Sciences of Sakha (Yakutia)

The scientist explained: 'I believe that people killed this animal, but the death blow was probably in the soft tissues, so we could not see the traces on the bones. 

‘Modern elephant hunters try to throw the spears in the belly, causing peritonitis, or killing the animal on the spot. 

‘The same way is likely with hunting mammoths in ancient times.

‘We are gathering now the team of the researchers, experts in traces, to restore the whole picture of this hunt and the subsequent butchering.’

He has an additional theory.

Albert Protopopov and Innokenty Pavlov

Dr Albert Protopopv (left) and Innokenty Pavlov (right) present the blade at the conference in Moscow. Picture: The Siberian Times

'The bones were dated as 20,000 years old. This was the time when people from Siberia migrated to America.’

They did so by land connecting modern day eastern Siberia and Alaska.

‘So I think that these mammoth hunters were possible Beringia settlers.

’It fits by time and place. At the time, Kotelny Island was part of the mainland, part of the Beringian land bridge.’

Implements have been found, too, at the Kotelny mammoth graveyard, he said. 


Map of Beringia at the time of the latest glacial maximum. Based on the map by Sergey Slobodin (2016).

'We have also found tools left by ancient people near the butchered mammoth. 

‘One was made of mammoth vertebrae, a kind of grindstone for polishing tools. 

‘It looks like the Clovis tool, found in the United States, but it was made of stone. 

‘The other item is a piece of the reindeer antler with the traces left by some tool.

Innokenty Pavlov at mammoth's skeleton

Pavlov's mammoth

Skeleton in situ

Innokenty Pavlov and his team at the excavations of the mammoth. Pictures: Innokenty Pavlov

‘We plan to date these items to understand if they were left by the same people who butchered the mammoth.

'Now we will going to focus on the processing of the computer tomography scans with out Japanese colleagues. 

'I'm very glad that we managed to prove our theory that Pavlov's mammoth was really hunted by ancient people and was butchered by them.' 

The Japanese team involved in the research is headed by Professor of Palaeontology Naoki Suzuki, from Jikei University School of Medicine in Tokyo.

Comments (8)

I guess now hunters in the deep past, present and in the distant future are now to be considered murderers forever more. This is a real stupid story to call the ancestors of Nayive Americams murderers for simply trying to feed their families in the most extreme environment in the world and in the ice age, just like all other ancient peoples!
Normandie Kent, Santa Barbara
18/02/2021 05:36
Hey wait a minute, the Ancestral Native Americans were already in Alaska at 20,000 ybp. There is no way that it was Native Americans, because they had already left that part of Asia at that date. They were already in Beringia by 30,000 ybp, and isolated Beringia on their way to Chileans other inland settlements!!
Alulkoy, Santa Barbara, CA. USA
26/05/2020 02:14
The tiny spear tip point in the shoulder blade didn’t kill the mammoth. It’s just evidence that early mammoth hunters were hunting close to Beringia 20,000 years ago. The scientists said that the kill shot was probably another flesh wound that was probably in the belly area underneath the mammoth.
Normandie Kent, Santa Barbara, California
14/02/2020 13:13
Amazing! LOved it!
Erik, Bakersfield, CA
11/12/2019 03:17
‘It looks like the Clovis tool, found in the United States, but it was made of stone.

‘The other item is a piece of the reindeer antler with the traces left by some tool." Clovis culture is found with a date that is later by 5 thousand years and several thousand miles away. Are we really trying to make a connection ?
Christopher Webbe, United States
25/11/2019 05:11
We normally reserve the word "murder" for the killing of human beings. It may have been an unnecessary killing "probably not). It definitely was not a murder.
Christopher Webbe, United States
25/11/2019 05:03
Would such a tiny cut kill such a large animal?
Kendra, Lincoln, England
24/11/2019 07:18
Thank you.
David B. Benson , Washington state
14/11/2019 16:41

Add your comment

We welcome a healthy debate, but do not accept offensive or abusive comments. Please also read 'Siberian Times' Privacy Policy



Add your comments

The views expressed in the comments above are those of our readers. 'Siberian Times' reserves the right to pre-moderate some comments.

Control code*

Type the code

* obligatory



The Bank of Russia official exchange rates of foreign currencies