Could the last of the gomphotheres have been on the menu for early humans? New discoveries in Mexico have shown that a population of this elephant relative could have survived longer than anywhere else in North America. Long enough in fact, to have come into contact with Clovis hunters.
Gomphotheres were relatively common elephant-like animals during the Late Miocene and Pliocene (12 - 2.6 million years ago) and were found all across the northern hemisphere, Africa and South America. Throughout their evolution they appear to have favoured warmer climates and the glaciations of the recent ice ages may be one cause of their extinction in the northern hemisphere at around 13 500 years before present.
Whilst we know that 2 genera survived long enough in South America to come into contact with humans (possibly surviving to 6000 years before present; the Neolithic in Europe), this is the first co-occurrence in the northern hemisphere.
An ancient ancestor of the elephant, once believed to have disappeared from North America before humans ever arrived there, might actually have roamed the continent longer than previously thought. Archaeologists have uncovered the first evidence that gomphotheres were once hunted in North America.