Shitty story

fossilized dinosaur crap

Fossilized dinosaur crap/Wikimedia Commons

Scientists working on an archeological dig in Oregon contend they’ve found the fat in the crap of the ancients, and it shows humans were roaming North America before those now known as the first people arrived.

“Human occupation at Paisley Caves (Oregon) is now proven to 12,200 C years before present (BP) (about 14,400 calendar years) using fecal lipid biomarkers,” they reported at Science Advances last month.

“Coprolites 194 and 280 are the oldest coprolites determined to be unequivocally human based on fecal biomarker analysis, a methodology that bypasses current uncertainties surrounding mtDNA.”

A coprolite is a fossilized turd or, as the Merriam-Webster dictionary puts it, “fossilized excrement.”

Over time, the excrement dries out; any organisms that might have been living in it die, and it becomes almost rock-like. You can today buy a nice set of cut and polished dinosaur-dung bookends weighing about 4 pounds each on Ebay for $350. 

But chemicals left in the excrement when it passed through an animal remain in the fossil and can be analyzed.

The researchers from Newcastle University, the University of Bristol and the University of Oregon, went looking for Paisley poop because of a debate about the age of the human DNA found there.

DNA degradation

“DNA has been shown to be mobile in sediments in a range of environments and is also relatively easy to degrade,” they noted.

“Because of the contentious nature of the first Americans debate and the uncertainties surrounding potential contamination, the (DNA) findings from the coprolites from Paisley Caves have been the subject of criticism.”

The issue is contentious because of the theft of the continent by Europeans who began arriving on its eastern shore in the 16th Century and steadily marched west until they occupied and controlled a land once divided among hundreds of American Indian tribes.

The progeny of those Europeans have sometimes since been asked to atone for the sins of their ancestors now portrayed as looters and murders or worse. Some see that view softening somewhat if the idea spreads that there were others here who lost the continent to those who became the American Indians.

“Many questions still remain over who the earliest settlers were, when they arrived, and what route they took,” the coprolite crew wrote. “(Their) Western Stemmed Tradition is the oldest nonfluted lithic technology in the American Far West. Sites like Coopers Ferry, Idaho and Paisley Caves…provide evidence that WST technology predates Clovis, establishing this as the oldest well-defined technological tradition in North America, with links to late Pleistocene sites in East Asia and Siberia.”

DNA from 12,700-year-old Clovis remains has been linked to the American Indians of today. 

Archeologists are still working to sort out the history of the Western Stemmed Tradition in North America. As the lastest study noted, Paisley Caves is “the only site where a pre-Clovis WST assemblage has been found in direct association with well-preserved organic cultural material, enabling us to better understand these early settlers and their way of life.”

Among the things people leave behind when they live almost anywhere is their crap, the scientists noted, and it contains lipids specific to humans. Over time, it becomes locked in sediment where it remains stable.

Flagging the humans

When the researchers studied 18 coprolites previously tagged as containing human DNA, they said, they found 10 they interpreted as human in origin, six that appeared to been dumped by carnivores, and a “remaining coprolite…most likely of mixed (human/carnivore) origin.”

The study did not offer an explanation of how human DNA would end up in the crap of carnivores, but the most likely explanation would be that said carnivores were feeding on humans or scavenging human bodies.

Life in the past was not as easy as people enjoy it today. North America was not an idyllic Eden; it was more a dangerous jungle where only the fittest survived.

Estimates of the aboriginal population on the continent north of Mexico at the time Christopher Columbus stumbled into the continent have ranged from 1.8 million to 18 million, according to the National Museum of the American Indian.

The state of New York now has a population of more than 19 million, and California is at 39.5 million, according to the U.S. Census.

Archeologists of the future will find much easier pickings given that the more people there are the more coprolite they leave behind. The biggest problem trying to sort out the prehistory of the continent now is that there were so few people thousands of years ago, and they left so little behind.

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6 replies »

  1. The east side of the central cascades from say Fort Rock to Abert Rim is a pretty amazing place for what looks like boring sage covered volcanic rock country.

    From ancient flint nap sights around Hart Man and Glass Butte to Indian defensive field positions atop Abert Rim.At the base of Abert rim I was under the impression that petroglyphs were around.Just never spent enough time to do the leg work.
    In reality ALL of OR was fairly heavily populated with Natives.If I remember right, the Colombia river area around Hood river was a Rondavoue point for trade for all tribes west of the Rockies from at least Vancouver Island to Northern Baja.Far eastern OR was part of the ancestral lands for the Nez Pierce in the north and the Klamaths and Paiutes and Modocs in the south. The Great Basin may look like just inhospitable useless desert, but somehow natives survived in at times the worst conditions possible.

    • Never underestimate the ability of the climate to change, even without the hand of man to blame. About 5,000-6,000 years ago the Sahara Desert was covered in grassland and water was found all over. As far as Eastern Oregon and the Great Basin the same is true, while it is now high desert and scrubland that hasn’t always been the case.

      “Jenkins discussed an evolving Oregon landscape where climates have changed substantially over thousands of years. He describes a wet climate 9-10,000 years ago where lakes in the region were hundreds of feet deep. About 9,000 years ago those lakes began to dry up. About 6,000 years ago the waters came back, only to dry up again. He says this moist climate supported a great deal of plant life and that these early humans were highly knowledgeable about how to preserve and store roots, nuts, and berries to sustain them during the long winter months.”

      “A noticeable change occurred beginning about 6,000 years ago when these early inhabitants began moving out of caves and closer to marsh areas where game and plants were found. The first rudimentary stone houses appeared. These houses often had their entries facing east, away from the prevailing southwestern winds. Evidence has been uncovered of food storage pits that could be defended. Early evidence of fishing, including stashes of dried Tui Chub which provided essential fat to their diets, has also been found. Trade routes were established. Beads and other items that were commonplace in Mexico have been found as far north as Oregon. With these changes, socialization also evolved. Smoking, using a form of “wild tobacco,” became commonplace as did competitive games and other organized activities.”

      • Steve-O
        Same as Copper river basin being an old lake/inlet.The tribes of the Great Basin were still doing
        there thing up until, well contact with whitey.So they had plenty of heat and dry conditions under there belt.
        The Indians living in northern east Baja disappeared supposedly around 500 yrs ago, you have to see the country to understand the unimaginable headwinds.They spent a lot of seasonal time in the foothills of whatever the mountains are called, believe it or not there is water there,and mountain sheep, and of course they knew that.
        They made hand daubed clay fired pots to store precious grain,possibly water too, which was stored under rock outcroppings.As best as I know(for whatever that’s worth)the mud came from the estuary of the Colorado river.Understand that without looking at google maps,id say its a good 20-50 miles away as the crow flies, across the most desolate piece of ground this side of the Sahara.
        Just to tie back in remotely to dry turds, the Glass Butte in OR was important because it was supposedly the only place to find Obsidian for spear points,(although I remember seeing lots of obsidian in the Mono lakes (CA)area as a kid).But nevertheless, the whole area around the western continental 45 parallel was mostly crawling with life.But for many,unless you lived on the Columbia river ,or west of the Cascades it was mostly damn tough

  2. Well ain’t that some shit?

    Maybe one of these days we will all figure out that we are all humans and not claim to be from some special group of extra-special humans deserving of special treatment.

  3. The making of a future coprolite:

    The Daily Caller

    Report: Polar Bear Kills Man, The First Time In 9 Years

    Jordan Lancaster
    August 28, 2020 1:35 PM ET

    A man in Norway was killed by a polar bear Friday morning, Reuters reported.

    The man, whose identity has not yet been released, was camping in the Norwegian Arctic Svalbard islands when he was attacked Friday morning. This is the first time someone has died by a polar bear attack in 9 years, according to Reuters.

    The bear was shot at by onlookers who then walked the animal towards a nearby airport, Svalbard Deputy Governor Soelvi Elvedahl said in a statement. Shortly afterward, the bear was found dead in the airport’s parking lot. (RELATED: ‘Invasion’: Polar Bears Terrorize Arctic Town)
    A polar bear takes a sun bath at Moscow’s zoo on September 12, 2014, in Moscow. From September 13 to 14, 2014, Moscow’s zoo marks 150 years since its founding in 1864. (Photo by Vasily Maximov/AFP via Getty Images)

    A polar bear takes a sun bath at Moscow’s zoo on September 12, 2014, in Moscow. From September 13 to 14, 2014, Moscow’s zoo marks 150 years since its founding in 1864. (Photo by Vasily Maximov/AFP via Getty Images)

    People outside Svalbard’s main settlements are required to carry a means to protect themselves from animals. Authorities recommend carrying a gun.

    Shooting a polar bear, which is a protected species, is illegal except for self-defense, Reuters reported.

    The Svalbard islands are home to 2,939 people and 975 polar bears, according to the Norwegian Polar Institute and Norway’s statistics office, Reuters reported. Svalbard’s mountains and glaciers are located halfway between northern Europe and the North Pole.

    Encounters between humans and polar bears are increasing on the islands. as tourism increases, the Arctic ice sheet is shrinking, leaving less space for the polar bears and increasing the chance of an encounter with a human.

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