The mammoth bones and a pile of stone flakes accumulated from tool-making activities were unearthed in 2011 by heavy equipment terracing a field west-central Kansas, the university reported Friday.
The bones and flakes, known as knapping flakes from chipping stone into tools, were found in the same shallow layer of sediment just 50 yards apart, the researchers said.
"It was intriguing to find a knapping pile and mammoth bones close together in the same geologic layer," geoarchaeologist Rolfe Mandel said. "If we can determine that the people who created the flakes also killed the mammoth, it will prove that humans were in the Central Plains much earlier than currently proven."
The earliest association between people and mammoths in the Central Plains proven to date occurred 13,000 years ago, the researchers said.
They hope to find direct evidence such as artifacts among the animal's remains or butcher marks on the bones to prove that people were in the area at the same time as the mammoth, they said.