Museum: Early humans arrived in North America 115,000 years earlier than thought

Cerutti mastodon site will be on display
Posted at 11:44 AM, Apr 26, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-26 21:59:21-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV)-- Paleontologists from the San Diego Natural History Museum unveiled Wednesday fossils that will add to scientific understanding of when humans arrived in North America. 

In a report that will be published Thursday in the journal Nature, analysis of a mastodon discovery yielded evidence that pushes back the record of early humans by more than 100,000 years. 

"This discovery is rewriting our understanding of when humans reached the New World. The evidence we found at this site indicates that some hominin species was living in North America 115,00 years earlier than previously thought," said Judy Gradwohl, president and CEO of the museum. 

Until recently, the oldest records of human sites on the continent were about 14,000 years old. 

Museum paleontologists found the bones, molars, and tusks of a mastodon in San Diego during routine mitigation work at a freeway expansion project site back in 1992.  They named it the Cerutti Mastodon site after Richard Cerutti who discovered site and lef the excavation. 

"When we first discovered the site, there was strong physical evidence that placed humans alongside extinct Ice Age megafauna, this was significant in and of itself and a 'first' in San Diego County," said Tom Demre, curator of paleontology and director of PaleoServices at the museum. "Since the original discovery, dating technology has advanced to enable us to confirm with further certainty that early humans were here significantly earlier than commonly accepted." 

The remains showed evidence of being hit with tools meaning that humans were around at the same time. Tests date the dig site back 130,000 years. 

Sandy Coronilla is a KGTV digital producer. Follow her @10NewsSandy