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IU discovers stone tools, rare animal bones -- clues to Caribbean's earliest inhabitants
Date:8/17/2009

sits beneath a limestone bluff and is only accessible after submerging into a small pool, since 1996 as they studied its use as a Taino water-gathering site.

Geoffrey Conrad, director of the Mathers Museum of World Culture at IU Bloomington and professor of anthropology, said the tools are estimated to be 4,000 to 6,500 years old. The bones might range in age from 4,000 and 10,000 years old. While sloth bones are not uncommon, he knows of only a handful of other primate skulls found in the Caribbean.

"I know of no place that has sloths, primates and humanly made stone tools together in a nice, tight association around the same time," said Conrad, also associate vice provost for research at IU Bloomington. "Right now it looks like a potential treasure trove of data to help us sort out the relationship in time between humans and extinct animals in the Greater Antilles. This site definitely is worthy of a large-scale investigation."

The three stone tools and remnants, made of basalt and limestone, were examined by internationally known IU anthropologists Nicholas Toth and Kathy Schick, who told researchers the palm-sized stones showed unmistakable signs of human craftsmanship. Toth and Schick are co-directors of the Center for Research into the Anthropological Foundations of Technology (CRAFT) Stone Age Institute in Bloomington.

IU primate expert Kevin Hunt told researchers the primate could have been a howler monkey which is extinct in the Caribbean. Keller said the sloth bones came from six, and possibly seven, sloths and include several species, including one the size of a black bear and another the size of a large dog. She said the primate skull is significantly different than the other primate skulls found in the Caribbean.

"Very few primate skulls have been found in the Caribbean," she said. "The others, found in the late 1800s and early 1900s, are three times as large. We have received a permit to bring the sk
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Contact: Charles Beeker
cbeeker@indiana.edu
812-855-5748
Indiana University
Source:Eurekalert  

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