Early human presence in the Arctic: Evidence from 45,000-year-old mammoth remains Vladimir V. Pitulko1,*,†, Alexei N. Tikhonov2,*, Elena Y. Pavlova3, Pavel A. Nikolskiy4, Konstantin E. Kuper5, Roman N. Polozov6
Corresponding author. E-mail: email@example.com
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Earliest human Arctic occupation. Paleolithic records of humans in the Eurasian Arctic (above 66°N) are scarce, stretching back to 30,000 to 35,000 years ago at most. Pitulko et al. have found evidence of human occupation 45,000 years ago at 72°N, well within the Siberian Arctic.
The evidence is in the form of a frozen mammoth carcass bearing many signs of weapon-inflicted injuries, both pre- and postmortem. The remains of a hunted wolf from a widely separate location of similar age indicate that humans may have spread widely across northern Siberia at least 10 millennia earlier than previously thought.Archaeological evidence for human dispersal through northern Eurasia before 40,000 years ago is rare. In west Siberia, the northernmost find of that age is located at 57°N. Elsewhere, the earliest presence of humans in the Arctic is commonly thought to be circa 35,000 to 30,000 years before the present.
A mammoth kill site in the central Siberian Arctic, dated to 45,000 years before the present, expands the populated area to almost 72°N. The advancement of mammoth hunting probably allowed people to survive and spread widely across northernmost Arctic Siberia.Evidence for human habitation in the Arctic before the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM), which spans 26.5 to 19 thousand years ago (ka), is very rare. It has only become available in the past 20 years, with the discoveries of the Mamontovaya Kurya site in the European Arctic and the Yana Rhinoceros Horn Site (RHS) in Arctic Siberia. Before these discoveries, researchers held that humans could not have started populating the Arctic regions until the Pleistocene-Holocene boundary.
The recent discoveries indicate the presence of people in the Arctic at least at the end of marine isotope stage 3 (MIS 3), around 28,000 14C years before the present (yr B.P.) or slightly earlier, whereas older sites are found south of 55°N.