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OSU professor makes 16,000-year-old discovery in western Idaho

Dr. Loren Davis was the archaeological director of the Cooper's Ferry excavation.

Posted: Oct 14, 2019 7:07 PM

COOPER'S FERRY, Idaho -- An Oregon State University professor who directed an archaeological excavation in Cooper's Ferry, Idaho, recently made a 16,000-year-old discovery.

Dr. Loren Davis and his team found bones, artifacts and other remnants dating back 16,000 years at the excavation site on the banks of the Salmon River in western Idaho.

Davis led a team of scientists over the past 10 years, uncovering an area where humans settled after migrating south along the coast and traveling inland. 

"So at this point that represents the earliest archaeological evidence of people in the Americas," Davis said. 

Davis said that learning about the first Americans is extremely important because the past informs us on what we as humans were able to achieve as a species.

The discovery did not only involve humans, but they also found bones and a tooth from a prehistoric horse that is now extinct. 

"We also found evidence that people probably killed and ate a horse. When I say horse, I don't mean like horses today, these are extinct horses, they're very similar in a biological sense, but these are horses that went extinct at the end of the last Ice Age and then they disappeared from North America," said Davis. 

Davis said they were following a foraging way of life, hunting, gathering and fishing, but not practicing agriculture.

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