Early Man in America

Over thirty thousand years ago, while Cro-Magnon man carved sculptures in Europe, Llano Man was shaping the stone heads of Malakov right here in Texas.

stonehead2A.jpg (29447 bytes)The history of early man is often depicted with graphs, charts, reconstructed skulls, and artists renderings which imply two million years of gradual, progressive change—like a bridge across a River of Confusion. In fact, what we have is a series of stepping stones with wide gaps between the various stages or types, and some stones branch off into the river and lead nowhere. Just as we are about to reach the opposite shore the last two stones are conveniently placed allowing us to stand on the solid ground of the present. The next to last stage is represented by the Neanderthals which just don’t seem to fit in the scheme of things; but without them our path of stepping stones will leave us stranded and confused.

The first remains of the Neanderthal were discovered in 1856 by limestone miners quarrying a cave near Dusseldorf, Germany in the Neander Valley. Tal or Thai means valley in 19th-century German—thus the name Neanderthal. The artifacts of these people were primarily simple, crude stone tools shaped from cobbles using a technique known as percussion flaking where large flakes were knocked off on one end of a stone to form a sharp cutting edge. These tools were hand-held. There was no hafting, which allows for the tool to be attached to a shaft or handle; however the Neanderthals were the first humans to bury their dead.

“Mystery surrounds the Neanderthals,” Kenneth F. Weaver wrote in his November, 1985 National Geographic article, The Search for Our Ancestors.  “Neanderthals seem to appear on the scene in Europe perhaps 125,000 years ago. They disappear—some say quite abruptly—at some time between 30,000 and 40,000 years ago... All we know is that they disappeared, and that by 30,000 years ago a robust version of modern humans [Cro-Magnon] had replaced them everywhere.”

“What fascinates me about the fate of the Neanderthals is the paradox of their promise,” James Shreeve wrote in ‘The Neanderthal Peace,’ which was published in the September, 1995 issue of Discover. “Appearing first in Europe about 150,000 years ago they had spread throughout Europe and western Asia. As for Neanderthal appearance, the stereotype of a muscled thug is not completely off the mark. Thick-boned, barrel chested, a healthy Neanderthal male could lift an average NFL linebacker over his head and throw him through the goalposts. But despite the Neanderthal’s reputation for dim-wittedness, there is nothing that clearly distinguishes its brain from that of a modem human except that, on average, the Neanderthal version was slightly larger.”

The last steppingstone toward modem humans was found with the type known as Cro-Magnon. The relationship between the Neanderthal and Cro-Magnon is still the topic of debate and speculation. “In spite of the ideal conditions of preservation in the caves of Europe and the Near East,” Jeffery Goodman observes in American Genesis, “which have given us a rich horde of ancient skeletal material, no one knows where the Neanderthals disappeared to, nor where the Cro-Magnon’s came from. There is no trace of Cro-Magnon man before his appearance in the Middle East. The generally accepted story of human evolution at its crucial fully modern man.”

In 1868, near the Hotel Cro-Magnon in Les Eyzies, France railway workers uncovered the remains of the first anatomically modern human. Named after the location where they were first discovered, the Cro-Magnon’s were distinguished, with “a well-defined chin, a vertical forehead lacking pronounced brow-ridges; a domed brain case; and a slender, lightly built frame, among other, more esoteric features” [James Shreeve]. Arriving around 40,000 years ago, the Cro-Magnon’s abruptly displaced the Neanderthals and, like a bolt of lightening, populated the earth.

There is a commonly held assumption that the behavioral trait which sets humans apart from other animals is the ability to make tools. We now know that contemporary apes are toolmakers as well. What was unique to the Cro-Magnon’s, the new and improved version of humans, was their invention of art. This ability to express themselves symbolically through the art of paintings and sculpture, laid the groundwork for a written language. Their other innovations included highly refined and sophisticated bone and pressure flaked stone tools and jewelry, and the atlatl, or spear-thrower.

“When art first appeared, presumably around 40,000 B.P. (before the present), it spread quickly. Within a mere 5,000 years—barely the blink of an eye on paleontological time scales—the work of early artists popped up in several corners of the globe. Archaeologists have found more than 10,000 sculpted and engraved objects in hundreds of locations across Europe, southern Africa, northern Asia and Australia.” (“Ancient Odysseys,” by Michael D. Lemonick, Time, February 13, 1995.) What is missing from this observation is any mention of America, where sites of equal antiquity have been discovered. But, it is difficult for authorities on the topic of early man to accept the fact that humans, contemporary to the Cro-Magnon, were alive and well in America.

The question that immediately arises is: If early man was in America say 35,000 years ago, how’d he get here?

In the November 1985 issue of National Geographic, Kenneth F. Weaver wrote: “In Australia, Alan O. Thorne of the Australian National University has found anatomically modem remains more than 30,000 years old, possibly much older. By then peoples from both China and Indonesia had found ways to travel considerable distances by water.

“Thorne believes that these same peoples could have reached the New World by sea. The conventional view, however, is that early man reached Siberia perhaps 30,000 years ago and crossed much later over the Beringia land bridge into North America. Such a land bridge would have been exposed during periods when the great ice sheets had absorbed enormous amounts of water and lowered sea levels.”

The ice bridge, commonly known as the Bering Straight, was exposed approximately 12,000-14,000 years ago. The conventional 12,000 year-old time line for early man’s entry into America is based on the availability of a land bridge and the presence of Clovis type spear points which were found by archaeological amateurs in 1932 in Clovis, New Mexico, near the Texas border. The spear points were located in association with the bones of extinct horses, camels and at least four mammoths. These mammoths were ancient elephant approximately twelve feet to the shoulder with massive ten foot long curving tusks and tall enough to stare eyeball to eyeball with someone looking out of a second story window. Clovis points have been located all over North America, and fluted obsidian points very similar to Clovis have been uncovered at the Fell’s Cave site on the southern tip of South America.

The Clovis point employs a marked advance in stone tool technology—from percussion flaking of the Neanderthal type to pressure flaking where the entire tool is finely worked. This advance in the reduction of stones for tools is remarkable in that it exceeds necessity in its form and reaches a level of refinement associated with art.

“The earliest cultural relics so far discovered in Texas— and they are among the earliest so far found anywhere in the Americas—have been given the name Llano complex by E. H. Sellards. Llano man was a specialist in hunting an extinct species of elephant (Elephas columbi, and one of the favored habitats of this animal was on the Staked Plains (Llano Estacado) of Texas and New Mexico. The sites so far investigated seem to be near what were once water holes, probably spots where game was surprised, killed, and butchered. Several kinds of tools of stone and bone have been found at these places, but the characteristic implement is a flint spear or dart point known as the Clovis Fluted point.” [W.W. Newcomb, Jr., The Indians of Texas.]

Another curious aspect of LIano Man was the shape of the skull. Llano Man was dolichocephalic, or long-headed. Briefly, what this means is that, when viewed from above, the skull was markedly oval; greater in length from front to back than from side to side.

“In 1953 the fossilized physical remains of what appeared to be a Paleo-American were found in a “blowout” (a depression left by wind-shifted sands) on the Scharbauer Ranch near Midland,” Newcomb reported in Indians of Texas. “The skull fragments and the few other bones which were recovered were those of a woman, so she has appropriately been dubbed “Midland Minnie.” ...Whatever Midland Minnie’s age, her remains are modern and are in no way primitive or less human than those of modern man. The skull is exceedingly long-headed, as are those of most other presumably Early Americans, and if longheadedness turns out to be characteristic of Paleo-Americans, then it may have a bearing on their racial connections.”

Round-headedness doesn’t occur in America until approximately 10,000 years ago. It seems another paradox of history is that the long-headed Llano people and the mastodons they hunted seem to disappear at the same time. You can add to the puzzle, and confusion, that according to the Bering Straight scenario America was populated with migrating bands of Mongoloid stock, who were round-headed. Were they the ancestors of Llano Man? Not likely. Did they displace Llano man; and if so where did Llano man come from?

There is mounting archaeological evidence that humans arrived in America well before 12,000 years ago. However, the academic establishment is reluctant, to say the least, to accept any of these finds. Sites have been excavated in South American which have been dated at 14,000 years old. In New World Archaeology, published by Scientific American, Edward P. Lanning and Thomas C. Patterson wrote in their 1967 article, “Early Man in South America” :

“If man indeed lived in South America as early as 12,000 B.C., he must have been present in North America at a still earlier date...contemporary knowledge of early man in North America is far from complete and indicates that we should be busy searching for cultures older than the Clovis complex. We propose that some North American stone industries that include bifacial tools and edge retouched artifacts may precede the Clovis complex.”

What Lanning and Paterson are referring to is a pre-projectile point culture which is a natural precondition to the Clovis complex. The tool kit of a pre-projectile point culture would look much like that of the Neanderthal—hand-held precussion flaked choppers, hammer stones, and scrapers. In the absence of such a culture, we would have to assume that man arrived in the New World with the Clovis artifact in hand.

I first became convinced of a pre-projectile point culture in Texas around 1973 while residing near Zorn, just South of San Marcos. I lived on a 45-acre place which had a deep dry wash on the eastern side of the property. At the time I was very familiar with archaeological sites, the wide variety of stone tools, and so forth. For two years I scoured the property looking for artifacts and I found plenty, especially in and near the dry creek. All of the tools were hand-held choppers, hammer stones, and scrapers which were fashioned by percussion flaking; but never any projectile points, drills, knives, burns, or other pressure flaked tools. I took the artifacts to a university-tenured archaeologist with a Ph.D. who expressed interest in the site, but, ultimately he was too busy teaching or, during the summers, working at an archaeological site somewhere in the Mid-East.

A pre-projectile point culture would, of necessity, be older than 12,000 B.P., and would technologically mimic the tool-to-art transition found in Europe between the Neanderthal and the Cro-Magnon. Because no Neanderthal-type skulls have been found in America, the assumption is all Americans are direct descendents of the European Cro-Magnon. It’s easy to get confused at this juncture, because there is no evidence that Cro-Magnons descended from Neanderthals. In fact, neither the Neanderthals or Cro-Magnons appear to have any direct anatomical ancestors. And, in Texas, the long-headed Llano Man steps out into the world from nowhere as well.

Cro-Magnon and Llano Man, half a world apart, separated by continents and oceans in an Ice Age environment, were contemporaries. What proof do we have of this? There are two sites in Texas which were dated at 30,000 to 40,000 BP.

One site is mentioned in Newcomb’s, Indians of Texas: “The most peculiar and certainly the most exotic remains of Paleo-American man ever to turn up in Texas, and probably anywhere in the New World, are the three carved stone heads found in ancient gravels of the Trinity River near Malakoff and Trinidad in Henderson County. In 1929 the first of these carved heads was found by a gravel contractor at the bottom of a gravel pit. In 1935 the second and smallest head was recovered by another gravel contractor, and in 1939 the largest and most peculiar carving turned up in the course of a joint Texas Memorial Museum and WPA excavation of Pleistocene fossils... These fossils and the long period of time it must have required to lower the flood plain 60 to 70 feet suggest a considerable age for the carvings.” Fossils of extinct mastodons, horses, and camels were at that site, from the same strata or level as the sculpted heads, and were dated at approximately 30,000 to 40,000 B.P.

Lewisville, Texas, just some seventy miles from the location of the stone heads of Malakof, is the site of another remarkable, and controversial, archaeological find.

“Near Lewisville, Texas, twenty miles northwest of Dallas,” Goodman writes in American Genesis, “nineteen hearths were uncovered as a result of earth-moving operations. A chopper tool, a stone hammer, stone flakes, a Clovis point, and burned bones of  big and small game animals were found within the hearths. Snail and mussel shells and hackberry seeds showed that red meat was not the only thing on the menu. A burned bone which came from the same hearth as the Clovis point was submitted to the Humble Oil Company Laboratory for radiocarbon dating. An age of at least 37,000 years was indicated. This dating was confirmed by a UCLA radiocarbon date on hearth charcoal of at least 38,000 years.”

The presence of this Clovis point, which was 26,000 years ahead of its time, became the bone of contention between the Bering Straight adherents and anyone audacious enough to entertain another possibility. The Clovis point “contaminated” all other findings. Researchers who were willing to accept the findings backed away. “Shocked archaeologists, skirting libel, suggested that the Clovis point might have been “planted” in the hearth it came from, according to Marie Wormington of the Denver Museum,” Goodman tells us. “Arguing against the possibility of a hoax, Wormington points out that ‘Archaeologists who have worked closely with the individuals involved in the excavation (W.W. Crow, R. K. Harris, and members of the Dallas Archaeological Society) are completely convinced of their integrity and competence.’ Furthermore, Alex Kreiger of the University of Washington, who saw the hearth before it was excavated, states that ‘there was no evidence of disturbance in the hard-packed clay surface such as should have been present had an object been intentionally introduced into the hearth.’ This would also rule out the possibility that the point was tumbled into its location by the earth moving operations that led to the discovery.”

Apparently, to twist a phrase, for some to accept a +35,000-year-old American, a little sound proof is enough; but for others no proof will do. If Llano Man was in the American southwest around 40,000 years ago, the Bering Straight scenario (which, by the way, was a two way bridge) becomes a moot point. This article barely scratches the surface of the truly ancient archaeological sites in North and South America. In time, more irrefutable sites will be uncovered, and when that happens virtually all of the texts on the subject will have to be rewritten.