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Archaeologists in Texas thought they’d made an important discovery in the 1990s, when they unearthed a trove of stone tools dating back 13,000 years, revealing traces of the oldest widespread culture on the continent.But then, years later, they made an even more powerful find in the same place — another layer of artifacts that were older still.The Bluefish Caves in Yukon lie in a region known as Beringia that stretched from the Mackenzie River in N. Twenty-three fragments studied by Lauriane Bourgeon "definitely" show signs of being cut by human tools, Burke said. to Siberia nearly 24,000 years ago during the last ice age. "We have lots of lines of evidence that are converging on what looks like quite a coherent story of what looks like human presence," said Ariane Burke, an anthropologist at the University of Montreal.The bones likely belong to animals butchered by the people living in the caves."You look at the shape the tool makes when it cuts into the bone," she said.It was the biggest gathering of its kind since 1999.

Burke says their isolation caused their DNA to become unique, and that type of DNA can be traced in humans today.The pre-Clovis artifacts include more than 90 stone tools, such as bifaces and blades, and more than 160,000 flakes left over from the point-making process.(Photo courtesy Gault School of Archaeological Research) Indeed, an entire generation of anthropologists was taught that Clovis represented the continent’s first inhabitants.“We were all taught [North America was first populated] 13,500 years ago, and it appears that people arrived 15,000 to 20,000 years ago.” [See what may be the oldest known artifact in the West: “Stone Tool Unearthed in Oregon ‘Hints’ at Oldest Human Occupation in Western U.S.” The location in Texas where the new finds were made, known as the Gault site, was first identified in the 1920s, but it wasn’t until the 1990s that archaeologists discovered the first tools, like tapered-oval spear heads, that were clear signs of the ancient Clovis culture.In the fall of 2012, a seasonal excavator named Chuck Morelan struck a bit of luck.Morelan was tasked with excavating a small area all the way down to the bedrock, to see how deep the site extended.The other edge has a steep, flaked edge that could have been used to scrape hides and cut meat off of bones.“Its kind of a neat little artifact, the prehistoric version of a Swiss Army knife,” says Scott Thomas, an archaeologists for the Bureau of Land Management.The discovery is a small, beautiful knife carved out of a clear orange agate.One side has a number of serrated points, like a saw.