National Geographic : 1955 Dec
Hunters Spearing an Enormous Bison Suggest Banderilleros Placing Darts in a Bull Bison antiquus fed and clothed early Americans during prehistoric times. Countless herds stalked the plains. They died out mys teriously, as did other Ice Age giants. Today's smaller species, Bison bison, com monly called buffalo, sur vives only in meager, pro tected herds. Ancient bison towered over man. A full-grown bull may have weighed 2,250 pounds, or 25 per cent more than the pres ent average. Horns of one extinct species measured six feet from tip to tip. Modern bison grow short, curved horns. These Folsom spearmen spring from ambush at a water hole. One man launches his javelin with a wooden atlatl, a throw ing stick believed to be older than the bow and arrow. Mexico's Aztecs gave us the word for the device; Tarascan Indians still use the weapon to hunt ducks on Lake Patz cuaro. Other atlatls have been found in caves in the American Southwest. Artist Durenceau depicts Capulin volcano erupting in northeastern New Mex ico. Its extinct cone stands eight miles from the hunting site which gave Folsom man his name. Ancient lavas still carpet the terrain. © National Geographic Society Painting by Andre Durenceau radiocarbon that will date plant and animal specimens that ceased to live as long as 60,000 years ago. Several thousand samples of animal and vegetable remains, from most of the 48 States and countries around the world, have so far been tested for age by the carbon 14 method. They include wood from coffins and beams, snail and conch shells, bark, corncobs, peat, deer antlers, cotton cloth from Peruvian mum mies, rope, pine cones, hazelnuts, stems and roots of aquatic plants, wheat and barley, carbonized baskets-and even the linen wrap- pings from a copy of the Book of Isaiah some 2,000 years old, found in a cave in Palestine.* In the Old World the human race has been evolving for at least half a million years. There is no credible evidence, however, that any of the higher anthropoid apes or man himself developed in North or South America. Wherever he came from, it was man full fledged who entered the unpopulated New World (page 782). * See "Hashemite Jordan, Arab Heartland," by John Scofield, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE, De cember, 1952.