Fossil evidence provides clues into cold cases that are millions of years old. Paleontologists cracking a case, without cracking a bone, have cleared the names of some species, while catching other prehistoric perpetrators stone cold.
DNA evidence recently acquitted humans of causing the extinction of the wooly mammoth. Research published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B suggested that the prehistoric pachyderms were already on their way out by the time humans arrived on the scene.
Nonetheless, humans have mammoth murder on their rap sheet.
In 1977, Emanuel Manis, a farmer in Washington state, found Ice Age evidence linking humans to the killing of an American mastodon, a cousin of the woolly mammoth. At the Manis mastodon site, a rib bone from the deceased beast held a 3.5 centimeter-long (1.4 inches) broken spear point. The point was made from the bone of another mastodon.
Radiocarbon dating published in Science placed the time of death at 13,800 years ago.