1999 Field Season: Day 14

July 8, 1999

B8-1 became a much more interesting site today.

Today we discovered that what we had thought was a series of jumbled bones sitting on the top of a soil of Member 7 (and covered by the river sediments of Member 8), was actually something quite different. At first, the bones appeared to be out of their natural position, and a few stone tools were found around them. Maybe a river could have deposited the assemblage there. We knew that the site would be interesting to document, but if the bones and stone tools were not originally together, the site wouldn't yield much behavioral information.

We were preparing to lift the large pieces of fossil and decided to start with the large scapula. While getting ready to put plaster around the bone, we noticed that it went a little deeper into the Member 7 soil than we had thought. This was no problem-- probably a few centimeters of digging around the base would be all that was needed to free it. When we began digging, we uncovered another bone underneath.

The plastered scapula.

As the excavation to uncover the new bone continued, we realized that it was an entire rib, and so decided to dig another spit. As we dug, about 20 cm to the north of the rib was a second rib, aligned perfectly with the first. After we had lifted out the scapula, and started expanding our spit across the site, we began to find more stone tools.

In all, we uncovered another three ribs and thirteen new stone tools. The importance of these finds is that the ribs appear to be in their anatomical positions, which means that the large animal died at this very site. The bones and stone tools found were located completely within the Member 7 paleosol, not in the river sediments of Member 8, which means that the early human toolmakers, not a river, brought the tools to the exact same place as the bones. The information that we gathered today will change our understanding of this site, and we are very excited about the possibilities...

The new ribs, which are perfectly aligned with each other.