If Clovis culture developed in the Great Plains as traditionally thought, that must have occurred much earlier than scientists previously estimated--well before gomphothere hunters inhabited El Fin del Mundo, says anthropologist and study coauthor Vance Holliday of the University of Arizona in Tucson.
Although evidence of gomphothere hunting at El Fin del Mundo is exciting, it's unclear when Clovis culture originated, says archaeologist Michael Waters of Texas A&M University in College Station.
About 800 meters up a slope from the gomphothere bones, the researchers found remnants of an ancient camp.
According to Whistler, who has been collecting fossils in the area since the late 1950s, the shovel-tusk gomphothere, along with prehistoric versions of horses, antelopes, camels and even a ``sheep-deer,'' thrived in the valley before it ever became a desert.
Photo: (1--Color only in AV edition) David Whistler of the Los Angeles County Natural History Museum views the cement-encased fossil of a tusk of the gomphothere.