A new analysis of a very old mastodon skeleton has revelealed the earliest ‘murder weapon’ ever to be found; found in North America, this weapon is about 14.000 years old, predating any other found tool by at least 800 years.
Ever since those days, it was known that sharp objects make for excellent murder weapon; in this case, the sharp bit of bone was used to slaughter a mastodon by the day’s hunter. Even though it is not strictly a forensic case, the archaeological analysis technique is pretty similar.
“We’re fortunate that the hunter 13,800 years ago was probably trying to get that bone projectile point in between the ribs, probably trying to get at a vital organ,” said study researcher Michael Waters, an anthropologist at the Center for the Study of the First Americans at . “Maybe the mastodon flinched or his thrust was off, and he hit a rib instead and broke his bone projectile point. So it’s bad for him, and good for us.”
As most crime scene investigators notice every day, the kill wasn’t a fair fight – the animal was most likely old and sick. After dating the skeleton, they used a rather common technique in forensic osteology – a high-resolution computed tomography (CT) scan. Furthermore, researchers performed DNA testing on both the ‘victim’ and the ‘killer’
“That was even more exciting, because what that meant is whoever these hunters were that tracked down and killed the Manis Mastodon were hunting with weapons made from a previous kill,” Waters said.
However, after analyzing the forensic evidence, some researchers believe that this might not even be a murder at all.
“It is fully possible that this poor guy was not standing when killed, and might actually have been lying down and in the process of dying on his own,” Grayson said. “That would solve the problem of having someone tall enough, or up high enough, to stick it in the back.”