24,000-Year-Old Butchered Bones Found in Canada Change Known History of North America

24,000-Year-Old Butchered Bones Found in Canada Change Known History of North America

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Archaeologists have found a set of butchered bones dating back 24,000 years in Bluefish Caves, Yukon, Canada, which are the oldest signs of human habitation ever discovered in North America. Until recently, it was believed that the culture that represented the continent’s first inhabitants was the Clovis culture. However, the discovery of the butchered bones challenges that theory, providing evidence that human occupation preceded the arrival of the Clovis people by as much as 10,000 years.

For decades, it has been believed that the first Americans crossed the Bering Strait from Siberia about 14,000 years ago and quickly colonized North America. Artifacts from these ancient settlers, who have been named the Clovis culture after one of the archaeological sites in Clovis, New Mexico, have been found from Canada to the edges of North America.

A hallmark of the toolkit associated with the Clovis culture is the distinctively shaped, fluted stone spear point, known as the Clovis point. These Clovis points were from the Rummells-Maske Cache Site, Iowa

A hallmark of the toolkit associated with the Clovis culture is the distinctively shaped, fluted stone spear point, known as the Clovis point. These Clovis points were from the Rummells-Maske Cache Site, Iowa (public domain).

However, the recent discovery of bones in Canada that show distinctive cut marks supports the perspective that there were other inhabitants of America that preceded the Clovis.

The finding was made in the Bluefish Caves in Yukon, which consists of three small caves that are now considered to hold the oldest archaeological evidence in North America.  Researchers have found the bones of mammoths, horses, bison, caribou, wolves, foxes, antelope, bear, lion, birds and fish, many of which exhibit butchering marks made by stone tools.

Cut marks in the jaw bone of a now-extinct Yukon horse serve as evidence that humans occupied the Bluefish Caves in Yukon, Canada, up to 24,000 years ago. Photo by Bourgeon et al

Cut marks in the jaw bone of a now-extinct Yukon horse serve as evidence that humans occupied the Bluefish Caves in Yukon, Canada, up to 24,000 years ago. Photo by Bourgeon et al.

The site was first excavated by archaeologist Jacques Cinq-Mars between 1977–87, and initial dating suggested an age of 25,000 before present.  This was dismissed at the time as it did not fit with the well-established Clovis-First theory. However, a new study published in the journal PLOS One supports the initial dating, demonstrating that humans occupied the site as early as 24,000 years ago.

As part of the study, the research team analysed 36,000 mammal bones found in the caves. Carnivore tooth marks were observed on 38 to 56% of the bone material. A total of fifteen bone samples with cultural modifications confidently attributable to human activities were identified, while twenty more samples with “probable” cultural modifications were also found. “The traces identified on these bones are clearly not the result of climato-edaphic factors or carnivore activity,” the researchers report. “The presence of multiple, straight and parallel marks with internal microstriations observed on both specimens eliminates carnivores as potential agents.”

Bone sample from Bluefish cave showing cut marks made by humans.

Bone sample from Bluefish cave showing cut marks made by humans.

The findings support the hypothesis that prior to populating the Americas, the ancestors of Native Americans spent considerable time isolated in a Beringian refuge during the Last Glacial Maximum [LGM], the last period in the Earth's climate history during the last glacial period when ice sheets were at their greatest extension. As the researchers of the study concluded:

“In addition to proving that Bluefish Caves is the oldest known archaeological site in North America, the results offer archaeological support for the “Beringian standstill hypothesis”, which proposes that a genetically isolated human population persisted in Beringia during the LGM and dispersed from there to North and South America during the post-LGM period.”

Top image: Main: Kluane National Park, Yukon (CC by SA 3.0) Inset: Cut marks in the jaw bone of a now-extinct Yukon horse serve as evidence that humans occupied the Bluefish Caves in Yukon, Canada, up to 24,000 years ago. Photo by Bourgeon et al.

By April Holloway


Roberto Peron's picture

Fantastic!  I love it when the OLD DOGMA is upset by new evidence!  And I strongly suspect human exploration and habitation of North America goes far beyond 24 kya which will upset the old dogma even more. 


This happened because in Canada they are “Allowed” to dig past the level of the imaginary “Stop Sign”.

It's not about Dogma. It's about evidence. What you call dogma is actually just what is supported by actual solid evidence.. Until there is solid evidence that contradicts and points somewhere else (such as that talked about in this story) you are relying on guesswork and / or fantasy.

I agree that human habitation likely goes back even further than this though. Because I find it highly unlikely anyone has been fortunate enough to find the absolute earliest evidence that's out there (and that's even if there is evidence still existing for the earliest people). Sooner or later someone will find something from a time even earlier than talked about in this story.

Same thing is true when the earliest use of fire by humans is talked about. It's continually pushed back earlier and earlier with new discoveries.

Funny thing about “Hard Evidence”...In the end it is also just Speculation and Conjecture based on Thesis derived from just a few rare fragments found. It is all still just “Best Guess”.

Funny thing about "accepted" evidence that IS dogma. There is a big book out by Cremo I believe; "Unconventional Archeology" if I remember correctly which has several evidences of early high tech(relatively)and evidence of modern humans much "earlier" than so called scientists were/are willing to accept so these evidences are suppressed, discredited or disappear so they will not upset or discredit the "accepted" dogma. That is NOT science! It is nothing but protecting what some few people are willing to accept.

True science has no dogma. It incorporates new data and modifies its hypothesis when that new data is verified and accepted as fact. Yes, there are many pretty books that make extraordinary claims but extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence and most of the time these claims do not live up to the test. You can claim ANYTHING. The Yonaguni Rocks are Atlantis! um...no. They are simply naturally occurring columnar basaltic rocks. The first Americans were Africans (or Europeans, take your pick). No. Genomic studies show they are descended from Siberians. All it takes to falsify any of these specious claims is one tiny discrepancy. Darwin once famously stated that all it would take to disprove his theory of evolution was a single fossil out of sequence. To date, that has never happened. That's the difference between the wishful thinking of "alternative history" and real science.

I thought archaeological evidence older than 11,000 years old was found in South America, thus conclusively contradicting the Clovis First model? Or is the rapid colonization referred to the model that was changed to account for that evidence?

Roberto Peron's picture

The Buttermilk Creek, TX site yielded dates between 13.2-12.9 kya (thousand years ago).  The Pedra Furada, Brazil site yielded dates between 10.5-12 kya.  The Monte Verde, Chile site yielded dates between 18.5-14.8 kya.  There are actually several sites in South America that have yielded dates older than 11,000 years ago.

The remaining sites are under water, but no one wants to search.

You better believe there were people living in so American long before 24,000 years ago. Do some research on Tiajuanaco and also on the scholar Poznantsky (sp) who spent over 20 years there doing research and investigation. Western archaeology refuses to accept his (& others) finding because their time line of between 17.000 and possibly 40,000 years ago doesn't go along with the mainstream. I spent the better part of 12 years researching this and believe, at the LEAST, civilization in that area dates back well over 35K years.

The area around Tiwanaku may have been inhabited as early as 1500 BC as a small agricultural village.[5] During the time period between 300 BC and AD 300, Tiwanaku is thought to have been a moral and cosmological center for the Tiwanaku empire, and one to which many people made pilgrimages. Researchers believe it achieved this standing prior to Tiwanaku expanding its powerful empire.[1]

In 1945, Arthur Posnansky[6][page needed] estimated that Tiwanaku dated to 15,000 BC, based on his archaeoastronomical techniques. In the 21st century, experts concluded Posnansky's dates were invalid and a "sorry example of misused archaeoastronomical evidence."[7]

As I stated earlier, Posnansky's findings (like those of ANYONE who defies the norm) were summarily dismissed by western so-called "experts" for exactly that reason as it would upset the apple cart, so to speak. I seriously doubt anyone who would spend so many years of his/her life researching on-site so as to come up with a half-ass idea about that site. Now only that, but if you do any in-depth research on Tiajuanaco (they also spelled it wrong), you will find that when certain modern archaeologists were at the site, they purposely moved various stones and statues around so as to disturb the setting and therefore, making it easier to dismiss Posnansky's findings. There was also an astronomer who spent a great deal of time there and who mostly concurred with the findings of Posnansky. If you're really interested, you should find and read the book/s Posnansky & others wrote and which are far more detailed.

Actual radio-graphic dating techniques have directly dated The Tiwanaku Culture's beginnings to 1500 BCE. Their Empire lasted from around 200-1000 CE. These dates are solid and have been verified by many labs many times. There is no evidence that the Tiwanaku culture was around 15,000 years ago. Tiwanaku is the proper and accepted spelling of the word in English. It is spelled Tiahuanaco in Spanish. Your spelling is not found anywhere to my knowledge. Simply dismissing criticism of a crack pot idea as a vast conspiracy is not only ridiculous, it flies into the face of the verified facts.

Correct! I believe it was decided to be about 15,000 years old and technology that primitive people should not have had access or ability to do.

Uhhh...no. Not 15,000 years old but about 3,500 years old, if you date from the earliest settlement layers. There is absolutely no evidence of the Tiwanaku culture before that and radiometric dating simply does not lie. Add to that the fact that multiple specimens have been dated by multiple labs multiple times and you'll see that these dates are extremely well cross referenced. There is simply no doubt about these dates. The method used to get a date of 15,000 years BCE is little better than Astrology.

BTW, what is this technology they "should not have has access to"?

Seems there are those who feel no one 15-18,000 years ago had the tools or possibly brains to cut stone so accurately nor to move and place stones weighing several tons in such a way that we cannot slip a sheet of paper between them. Also there was the matter of the brilliant idea of placing cast metal locks between the stones to prevent movement. As an incidental question have you seen the highly refined and shaped small hammer with broken wood handle that was found fossilized in stone that was found in Texas or Mexico? One of those things that doesn't "fit" the accepted narrative.

Well, to begin with, 15-18 thousand years ago no one did have the know how to carve or move huge stones. This first occurs at Gobekli Tepe about 12,000 years ago. They did however, have the tools. You see, carving huge stones to a high degree of precision can and has been accomplished with very simple tools A few sticks, some charcoal, a bit of cordage and an assortment of rocks is all it takes. The sticks and cordage are used to build a scribe, the charcoal inscribes the edge you want and the stones are used to percussion flake the stone to the scribed mark. Essentially it's flint knapping on a monumental scale.Something humans have been doing for millions of years. No advanced tech, Atlantians or aliens needed. Raising the stones is a bit more complicated but again, only requires simple materials and tools.Hell, the Romans recorded the erecting of Egyptian obelisks over 32 meters tall and weighing over 450 metric tons with the simplest of equipment. The cramps between the stones were of a copper/nickle alloy and were cold hammered in the early phase but cast in place at later sites. This "bronze" alloy is well known from South American sites.
Yes, I have seen the "fossilized" hammer and no, it's not fossilized. It is "concreted" i.e. a CaCO3 concretion formed around the iron head after it was submerged in calcium rich water for a few centuries. This is a common and well known phenomenon. The same thing happens to cannon balls and cannons at the bottom of the ocean but, no one claims they are "fossilized" or that ancient aliens or civilizations shot at each other with cannon balls.

WHY is the narrative that "early" man didn't know how to build boats? Why must we always restrict ourselves to man "walking" all over the earth. If Noah could build a big boat (or Gilgamesh), surely boats had been around even before then.

I am inclined to think Darwin has hoodwinked most people into believing that since apes don't build boats, early man didn't either. Phhht.

Roberto Peron's picture

I just finished blogging about this very subject on my site.  Sea levels in prehsitoric times were lower than they are today so any evidence of searfaring is likely under water and accumulated sediments. BTW chimps HAVE been observed using logs to float across water on.  No they don’t build boats BUT they obviously have the concept of using a log to float upon the waters to get to where they are going.

I believe this is an incorrect statement. In ancient times before S and N America were joined there was an equatorial current as well as the more Northern Tethys Sea at which time there were non existent or much smaller Ice caps, no glaciation and much more globally tropical conditions prevailed. Sea levels had to be higher as well as that land masses were not as tall either since a great deal of plate movement had not happened yet.

The events you are describing occurred during the Cretaceous Period of the Mesozoic Era. There were as yet no humans (or Primates for that matter). I fail to see what bearing this has on the discussion at hand.

I don't know why I couldn't access your comment so, I'll repost it here and answer it as best I can:

Migrating Africans
You raise a very interesting point. Australian Aborigines. Years ago I went
to a display about human "origins" at OMSI and asked the attendant about
where these folks came from as they appeared more BLACK than black Africans
and were far from any other black race humans. I believe he said they had
been there some 45-50 thousand years. A very long time by our measure. You
come across as feeling that you are all seeing and all knowing so where do
they come from and how did they get there? I'm guessing that you'll also
disagree with the ancient date as well.

No, I don't disagree with those dates at all and further more I wouldn't be surprised to find that Aborigines arrived in Australia even earlier than that. They are the product of the first out of Africa event and probably began their journey between 80 and 120 thousand years ago via the southern route across the Red Sea between Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. From there they most likely migrated along the coasts to India (modern human tools have been found under the Toba ash fall ca 78,000 bce) and on to SE Asia, New Guinea and Ultimately...Australia. The Australian dates are very solid and consistent so, I see no reason to doubt them.
What concerns me is your "more black than black Africans" statement. Africans, like Australians come in a variety of shades of brown just as do all other humans. There is no such thing as being "more black" or for that matter more white, brown etc. For some stupid reason westerners are hung up on color as the defining characteristic of "race". This is simply not so. Let's take "whites" as an example. Walk down an American street and take a look. You will almost surely see people and categorize them as "blacks", "whites", "Asians" etc but, what happens when you come across an Arab? How about a person of Indian heritage? Are they black, white or Asian? If they have dark skin, most people will say "Ahhh...they're black!" Those who know their geography will say "Nope, they're Asians." BOTH would however, be wrong. Both Arabs and Indians are in fact genetically members of the Caucasian race! They are "whites" in good standing! "Race" has nothing to do with skin color, the shape of your nose and eyes or even the texture of your hair.
This is why Clyde and I butt heads all the time. He makes the erroneous assumption that because Australians LOOK LIKE Africans they must be the same! Nothing could be further from the truth!
While it is true that all humans are African in origin, not all humans are Africans. Just because some Native Americans had dark skin and wide noses does not make them Africans either. These groups are all genetically distinct but convergent evolution makes them look similar without being closely related at all.

"because Australians LOOK LIKE Africans they must be the same! Nothing could be further from the truth!"
Not hung up on color at all. Simple observation. From Photographs I have seen very dark Brown Africans but full blooded Aborigines that were more truly Black. How they got from Africa to there is subject to conjecture unless it has been proven they traveled by land mostly and the last part by H2O. Perhaps the Aborigines remained truly original stock but the African races were somewhat diluted by lighter skinned races? As for Native Americans I've seen a lot of pictures and never seen one that seemed to be at all dark skinned flat nosed black stock at all. How do you explain the difference between the Eastern American Indians and the majority of northern and western groups?

They even think the New World Primates arrived to the Americas by Sea 40 million years ago, Why not early man? Or a Primate that was to become man?


There is plenty of Protein in the Sea and along the edges of both Polar Ice caps, no need for dependence on land at all. Even the Capuchin Monkey is known to eat Shellfish!

Roberto Peron's picture

(said with tongue in cheek)…..Question is did these Old World primates raft to the New World with intent or by accident?   :)


Sorry about that Sir, I missed this. In your field of expertise you would know more about this than I. But I guess it would depend on what stage of evolution it might have happened. As an earlier Primate by accident? or at a later stage in evolution with intent looking for less competitive hunting grounds? 

Roberto Peron's picture

The theory is that 40 mya new world monkeys (South America) split from old world monkeys (Africa) with the new world monkeys migrating into what is now South America.  It is postulated that these new world monkeys rafted on vegetation or crossed a landbridge.  Some theorists believe they rafted to North America first and then spread from there, however, there is no evidence for this. There may have been a landbridge or a series of islands across the Atlantic now covered by higher ocean levels.  These islands could have acted as “stepping stones.”  At present this is the favored theory.  Further, the Atlantic we see today between South America and Africa was not as wide during the time of these migrations it is theorized.  

And I think it is very probable that one of these evolved into man.

Other than Giantopithecus were there any north American humans or monkeys before "known" humans?

Well, to begin with, Gigantopithicus was never found in the Americas at all. It is a wholly Asian Genus. There are no known members of the Genus Homo in the Americas before 24,000 years ago. As to monkeys, Yes, there were/are many members of the Platyrhininae i.e. New World monkeys in the Americas for millions of years as well as some very primitive Prosimian primates like Plesiadapsis and Purgatorious although placing Purgatorious in the Primata is controversial.

Simian/Prosimians in North America? Did my memory fail me. I thought Giantopithecus was from NA.

Yes,your memory has failed you. In North America. Purgatorious Dates back about 70 million years and is possibly an early primate though it may be a relative to the stem primates and not a primate proper. Plesiadpis is an early prosimian primate related to tarsiers, also North American but found in Europe as well.It dates to the Eocene about 55-58 million years bp. Gigantopithicus is a genus of 3 extinct ape species that were native to south and east Asia during the Miocene.It lived from 9 million years ago and became extinct about 100,000 years ago. It was closely related to the Orangutans and is thought to have been bipedal. Like all Old World simians (monkeys, apes and humans), Gigantopithicus was a member in good standing of the sub family Catarhinenae. All New World monkeys are simians belonging to the sub family Platyrhinenae.

LOL. In truth, rafting is not as problematic as it may seem. Old and New world monkeys split quite a long time ago, somewhere between 40 and 70 million years ago depending upon which study you red. During that time period South America and Africa were much closer together than they are today and it is quite likely that thee were islands between them. Moving from island to island would have been quite easy. Even today there are examples of monkeys that island hop.

Hear. hear!

I have never heard anyone claim that early humans did not build boats...ever. What IS said is that there is no evidence of early humans building boats which is completely true. Absent any evidence of boat building it must be assumed that they walked.

THAT is NOT good science at all. Assuming without evidence is the same as pulling a theory out of thin air and calling it fact.

Actually, you have it exactly backwards. We KNOW they could walk. You are postulating boats with sails for which there is no evidence. As there is no evidence for boats of any kind we must assume they walked until and if some evidence for 50 to 100 thousand year old boats is found. That IS good science. Assuming the existence of boats without evidence is not.

Quite n interesting article! I'll have to read the PLOS article as a follow up. The kerf marks appear to be legit but...the dating is where the facts will come out in the wash!

BTW...there's also a better than 50-50 chance people of Polynesian descent arrived in what is now So. America as early as 17,500 years ago if not longer. Whatever, there were definitely people living in the Americas long before that time...there are other parts of So America with ruins which easily date back over 20,000 years.

There were no Polynesians at all 17,500 ago let alone on the Islands 3,000 years ago. Obviously the ancestors of the Native Americans were already in the Americas 17,500. As this article says they were already in the the Yukon are at 24,000, there were no Polynesian race in America, they didn't exist as a people anywhere yet!

Normandie, I have been trying to explain this to "true believers" on a number of there comment sections but, to date I have found the people I'm attempting to educate to be fact proof.

It's possible the Bluefish Cave humans migrated from NE Asia 25-30k years ago and died off before they could populate further than the Yukon. Then, approximately 10k years later, the Clovis humans entered No. America and populated it.

Oldest Homo Sapiens evidence is 180,000 years ago in SE Africa. Following our ancestors pathway to NE Asia then into North America is fascinating.

There were no " Clovis Humans". Clovis is a style of lithics , a tool Kit of spear points and micro blades . The people who Butchered the mammoth bones in Bluefish Cave were Native Americans who evolved in America different styles of Lithic traditions, into the beautiful Clovis points of 12,600-13,300 yrs ago. Inventing and using a different style of tool Kit doesn't automatically change your genetics or genome. Those people were the same, and were the ancestors of the Native Americans.

Okay, you're right and I misspelled the name; should have been Tiahuanaco. On the other hand, I'm not trying to imply a "vast conspiracy" and am only stating what I learned from my research as well as 3-4 very lengthy conversations I had with someone who was actually there (twice) back in the late 70's and who, on one trip, spent the better part of two weeks digging (no pun intended) into the mysteries surrounding the site. There are more than a few sites covering Tiahuanaco, as well as Posnansky online, so you may find some interesting reading. You might also consider researching the famous Gate of the Sun there. Just for argument's sake, this is certainly NOT the only ancient archaeological site which has been a matter of controversy as I'm sure you know. Although I'm not a real conspiracy theorist, I am wise enough to know there have been more than a few sites which have been "changed" to fit the norms/accepted ideas.

While rearranging sites was commonplace during the "Antiquarian" period of Archaeology in the 18th and 19th centuries it is almost unheard of today unless a site is in danger of destruction like the Temple at Abu Simbel near High Aswan Dam. As to Tiwanaku, It has been dated numerous times and by numerous methods and the simple truth is the earliest settlement is consistently dated to around 1500 bce. The Tiwanaku civilization flourished from 300 bce to 300 ce or thereabouts. Dates like those given by Posnansky are simply out of the realm of possibility and are derived through dubious methods.

It would seem that Clyde Winters has me blocked so that I can not see his comments (; or reply to them. He doesn't like that I challenge his silly ideas (The Americas were settled by African sailors over 100,000 years ago etc) and contradict his wishful thinking with facts. What he doesn't seem to realize is that when you follow a thread you get the comment in an email. It's not too hard to cut and paste it for the purposes of rebuttal. So...here we go!

Siberians only entered Americas 15kya
There were Native Americans already in North and South America , millennia
before Mongoloid Indians came into the Americas from Siberia. The article you
cite notes that “ They found the ancestors of all present-day Native
Americans entered the Americas from Siberia into what is now Alaska no
earlier than 23,000 years ago. The group did split into the Athabascans and
Amerindians, and after no more than an 8,000-year isolation period in
Beringia — the land bridge that once connected Siberia to Alaska — they
began to populate the Americas mostly to the south. Earlier studies had
hypothesized about a longer isolation period. “

The authors of this article make it clear that Native Americans from
Siberia began entering North America 15kya. By this time Native Americans
had settled Brazil 100kya. Other Native Americans were at the Old Crow Basin
(c.38,000 BC) in Canada; Orogrande Cave (c.36,000 BC) in the United States;
and Pedra Furada (c.45,000 BC) in Brazil. Monte Verde has Radiocarbon date
43,000=19,000 BC. The Tlapacoya ,Mexico site dates to 24,000 BC.

( these dates are not authenticated nor are all of the artifacts actual artifacts. Additionally, most of these dates are derived via indirect means by dating charcoal found near by but not proven to be associated)

Pedra Furada have produced a total of 55 radiocarbon determinations of which
46 are currently accepted (TABLE 1; Paranti 1993a; pers. comm.); 32 of these
are in the Pedra Furada phase. The Pedra Furada phase is further divided into
three sub-phases. The sub-phases and their ages are: PF1, from 48,000 to
35,000 b.p.; PF2, from 32,160 to 25,000 b.p.; and PF3, from 21,400 to 14,300

Stanford and Bradley maintain that sites dating between 25, 000-13000 years
ago, namely the offshore Cinmar site, Meadowcroft Rock Shelter in
Pennsylvania, Oyster Cove on the Chesapeake Bay,Cactus Hill in Virginia, and
the Miles Point site have tool kits not found in Siberia. They claim that
tools at these site resemble Solutrean tools, not Eurasian tool kits.

(Once again, these dated and sites are not authenticated.)

(The so called Solutrean connection is a bunch of horse hockey based upon the idiotic idea that because two cultures make similar tools using similar methods they must be related.
Clyde is an expert at taking things out of context and cherry picking information. From the same article:
"Using coalescence analyses, not just using one piece of DNA, but the entire genome, we find that the earliest someone could have come to the Americas was 23,000 years ago," said Michael Crawford, head of KU's Laboratory of Biological Anthropology and a professor of anthropology. "This study also pretty well does in the whole idea that gene flow from Europe contributed to the original migration of present-day Native Americans."
Sorry Solutrians)

These dates for Native Americans below Alaska before 15kya make it clear that
ancestors of all present-day Native Americans did not enter the Americas
from Siberia, as claimed by the authors of the article cited by Willy.

(The quote above pretty much proves Clyde doesn't know squat. It clearly states 23,000 years ago and that they all came from a single Parent population. No where in the article does it say Proto Native Americans did not arrive via more than one path.)

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