The scientific community has a new reason to celebrate. Researchers have recently found an impressive mammoth skull in Santa Rosa Island, California. The skull is complete, and it is one of the best-preserved fossils that researchers have ever found.
Researchers think that this is a very important discovery, and they have several reasons to believe so. According to their observations, the mammoth skull belongs to a small species, which lived at about the same time as the first humans in North America. Scientists believe that the fossil can reveal new information both on human and mammoth evolution.
There is a debate in the scientific community whether humans caused the mammoths’ extinction, or the giant animals died out naturally. However, other archeological findings show that humans have been in contact with mammoths. For instance, scientists have previously discovered a skeleton with signs of a hunter having killed the animal.
Moreover, the recently found mammoth skull was dug up in Santa Rosa Island. This is also the place where the remains of the oldest human in North America were found. So now it is easy for researchers to make a link between the two, and state that the first human tribes in America lived at the same time as this small mammoth species.
What is so very impressive about the newly discovered fossil is that scientists can’t state for sure the species that it belongs to. Judging by the size of the skull, it appears to be too large to be classified as that of a pygmy mammoth. On the other hand, the skull is also too small for another documented species, namely the Columbian mammoth.
Based on this analysis, the researchers tend to believe that they are dealing with an intermediary species, between the pygmy mammoth and the Columbian mammoth. This feature makes the mammoth skull one of the most important and valuable archeological discoveries when it comes to fossils.
Scientists believe that the skull is at least thirteen thousand years old. There are specialists who think that the fossil doesn’t belong to a transitional species between the pygmy and the Columbian mammoth because there was not enough time between the two species so that a new one could emerge.
Further analyses will be carried out to determine exactly the age and the species of the animal. For the moment, the fossil is being cleaned. It will be taken to the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, for visitors to see it.
Image courtesy of: Wikipedia