Monday, March 24, 2008

Bison bones bolster idea Ice Age seafarers first to Americas
A series of discoveries of ancient bison bones on Vancouver Island and nearby Orcas Island in Washington state is fuelling excitement among researchers that the Pacific coast offered a food-rich ecosystem for Ice Age hunters some 14,000 years ago -- much earlier than the prevailing scientific theory pegs the arrival of humans to the New World.

Fourteen separate finds of remains of the extinct species bison antiquus -- an ancestor of the plains buffalo that would become a staple much later for Midwest natives -- show the islands were once part of a coastal grassland refuge from the glaciers that enveloped the rest of Canada and the northern U.S. at that time.

And among the relics found in areas including the Saanich Peninsula is a particularly tantalizing piece of evidence: a leg bone from Orcas Island that appears to have been butchered by a human -- hundreds of years before humans were thought to have migrated to North America.

Unfortunately, there are no artifactual remains associated with the bison bones; human interference is inferred through breakage patterns which, as one of the investigators notes, is inconclusive. Still, tehre will probably be increased work around the islands. Count me in!