DNA busts cave-pooper – 14,000 years later!

The recent consensus has been that the earliest humans in North America were the Clovis people, roughly 13,000 years ago. Newly discovered fecal fossils in Oregon indicate people were pooping here at least 1000 years earlier, though.

Consider, if you will: it is 10,000 B.C. You are Og the caveman, living near Eugene, Oregon. Of course, there is no “Eugene” yet – no freeways, no Starbucks, no anarchists, no hippies, in short none of the modern conveniences upon which we have come to rely. You’re invited to a barbecue at the Oops’ cave, and Beelze Butt has agreed to be your date. After a few rousing rounds of “Taunt the Saber-tooth Tiger,” the females are impressed and the males winnowed down, and it is time to feast. Unfortunately Mrs. Oop is serving tainted mastodon, which hits your colon like a runaway freight train.

When ya gotta go, ya gotta go, and the group is laughing around the fire in a scene that could one day make a Geico commercial, so you sneak off into the recesses of the Oop’s cave and let go. Naturally, you want to get out of there before the scent wafts out, so you rejoin the group, make your apologies, and drag Beelze by the hair back to your place.

You’re in the clear, right? They’ll never prove it was YOU who pooped in their cave . . . but the thing about crime is that, sooner or later, they all are solved. Enter archaeologists from the Universities of Oregon and Copenhagen, Denmark, who entered the cave, found the poop, and tested it for DNA. Dreadful bad luck there, Og!

John Noble Wilford reports for The New York Times:

Exploring Paisley Caves in the Cascade Range of Oregon, archaeologists have found a scattering of human coprolites, or fossil feces. The specimens preserved 14,000-year-old human protein and DNA, which the discoverers said was the strongest evidence yet of the earliest people living in North America.

Other archaeologists agreed that the findings established more firmly than before the presence of people on the continent at least 1,000 years before the well-known Clovis people, previously thought to be the first Americans. Recent research at sites in Florida and Wisconsin also appears to support the earlier arrivals, and a campsite in Chile indicates migration deep into South America by 14,600 years ago.

Read the whole article at the link above. Okay, there were actually fecal samples left from several different humans, so it isn’t fair to put all the blame on Og. Maybe the Oops and others joined him. Maybe it was some sort of social occasion, a ritual of community. Maybe they all just sat around shooting the sh*t . . .

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