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People may have arrived in the Americas 30,000 years ago

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Introversion

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New clues suggest people reached the Americas around 30,000 years ago

Humans may have inhabited what’s now southern Mexico surprisingly early, between 33,448 and 28,279 years ago, researchers say.


If so, those people arrived more than 10,000 years before folks often tagged as the first Americans (SN: 7/11/18). Other preliminary evidence puts humans in central Mexico as early as around 33,000 years ago (SN: 7/22/20).


The latest evidence comes from animal bones that biological anthropologist and archaeologist Andrew Somerville and two Mexican colleagues found stored in a Mexico City lab. The bones had been excavated in the 1960s at a rock-shelter called Coxcatlan Cave.


Radiocarbon analyses of six rabbit bones from the site’s deepest sediment yielded unexpectedly old ages, the researchers report online May 19 in Latin American Antiquity. That sediment also contained chipped and sharp-edged stones regarded as tools by the site’s lead excavator.


Higher sediment layers yielded clearer examples of stone tools and other remnants of human activity dating to nearly 9,900 years ago. Somerville, of Iowa State University in Ames, initially suspected that rabbit bones from the deepest sediment were perhaps around 12,000 years old. But analyses revealed they were much older, hinting humans were living in the cave roughly 30,000 years ago.


Somerville will next determine whether other animal bones from the ancient sediment display butchery marks, breaks where marrow was removed or burned patches from cooking. He also wants to locate and study possible stone tools from that same sediment that may be stored in the same lab.
 
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ChaseJxyz

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It is quite refreshing seeing factual and reasonable discussion on this topic. I have seen some Blisteringly Wild Takes on the subject this year, such as "nothing ever passed over the Bering Land Bridge" (what about horses???) and "it is racist to say Native Americans emigrated to the Americas because it implies they are invaders and so it's okay to take their land" and, my favorite, "we should seriously consider Native American myths as historically accurate. There is one tribe that says that humans have always existed in the Americas." Which would imply that Native Americans are an entirely different species from new world monkeys? Or humans started in the Americas and went everywhere else? (But how if no one ever used the Bering Land Bridge????)

Anyways! Cool article thank you for sharing.
 

Chris P

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I love thinking about this stuff. I think it's part of modern hubris to think things had to happen closer to the modern age because "primitive" humans could not possibly have figured out stuff we think of as the characteristics of modern development. Very 19th Century of us.

My more reasonable theory is the first humans in North America came earlier than we think, but because they would have followed the coasts most of the evidence is now underwater once the sea levels rose. The simplest answer that resolves the most questions is the current theory, just happening earlier (that's not without problems, but is probably close). My completely out there theory is maybe in a warmer climate folks bounced along the coast of Antarctica and came to South America from the Antarctic Peninsula. I just can't figure a way they got to Antarctica in the first place, or that they would have gotten there at a time the climate was amenable.
 

Alessandra Kelley

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People got to Australia very early, despite there never being a land bridge there.

Humans have proven themselves very inventive and adaptable at getting places.

I was told by an academic friend (I could not vouch for its complete accuracy) that at least part of the reason the orthodoxy that humans only came to the Americas very recently has been clung to so hard and stubbbornly in the face of vast amounts of compelling counter-evidence, is that some prominent and influential academics' entire careers were based on the orthodoxy of the Clovis People being the first humans here, a mere 11 - 13,000 years ago. These academics were powerful enough and influential enough to have a chilling effect on the entire field.
 

amergina

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I just visited the Meadowcroft Rock Shelter recently, an archeological site with evidence of continuous habitation in what's now western PA dating back to 19,000 years ago. And they haven't finished digging down.

I am not surprised people are finding evidence much older, either.
 
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